Thursday, August 31, 2017

Why did Marilyn Monroe make me cry?

Warning: just teeny bit political

I was flipping through some Facebook posts and landed on “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” I watched the entire number because it is one of my all-time favorites; Marilyn at her very best and oh that pink. I was once again admiring the total achievement: the music, the performances, the setting and suddenly I burst into tears. Why? Why would such a delightful, fluffy and joyful musical number send me reaching for the Kleenex?
Jane was pretty wonderful, too

I’ve been asking myself “Why?” about a few things lately. I have a friend who rabidly – and I mean rabidly – supports a current politician who shall remain nameless (it really isn't about him). Since this friend has never been particularly political, I ask myself (quietly and only to myself) what is it about this man that my friend finds so compelling? And in a moment of quiet, clarity about both my friend and my reaction to Marilyn Monroe became a little clearer.

Regarding that friend, he is older and loves to insult people and generally feels superior by mocking others (he's a good guy but has some challenging qualities). And so that politician, for him, is like looking in the mirror. He feels they are the same because he sees a version of himself in the politician (minus the billions of dollars and the gold-plated toilets).
Who does Marilyn see?

let's get back to Marilyn. I don’t see myself in Marilyn, but in that scene her youth and beauty and talent are on full display. It is dazzling, and it represents everything I love about film. Youth and beauty are so fleeting, never properly appreciated until they are gone. My own mirror reveals the passage of time, but never film. The scene is joyous and clever and it makes me so happy. It is perfection and its beauty makes me cry.  

A girl does what a girl must do
Movies have always been the mirror that all of my hopes and dreams and fantasies for the future reflected back to me. I may not be Scarlett, but when she ripped down those drapes and brazened her way into Atlanta, I cheered her. It spoke to a spark of bravery in my heart. And when Shirley MacLaine runs to meet her heel of a lover in “The Apartment,” I saw in her someone I knew, someone who propels herself towards the wrong fork in the road, but hopes it is the right one. More than once. In countless film I see some small speck of the person I am, or was or want to be. As Chaplin moves mountains for the blind girl in "City Lights," I instantly recognize the soul of the romantic.
A true romantic

So, yes, I cried a bit for Marilyn, but mostly for me because I love the movies oh so much that I am overwhelmed and reduced to tears sometimes. When the lights are down and I am truly that person in the dark, I can cry and love and laugh with abandon with a full heart. It’s real and it’s personal.


Richard Bellush said...

As I’ve grown older I’ve grown more sentimental. Not in the big things: I’ve hardened about those as most of us do. But definitely in anything that has a nostalgia element to it. (Aside: Civil War doctors frequently listed nostalgia as a contributing – sometimes only – cause of death; maybe they were onto something.) That includes movies (and music) that evoke another time, past people, past events, or another stage of life. So, I grok tears for Marilyn. In the dark they can be as secret as one chooses them to be.

Caftan Woman said...

I am so glad you shared this. You explained beautifully the impact of the films that have surrounded many of us for most of our lives. A lovely film score, a line of dialogue, a close-up on a beloved face can conjure up such full, yet mixed emotions. They are no less real for being the product of someone else's imagination. They were gifts given to us.

Martin Turnbull, the Garden of Allah novels said...

Oh honey, you ain't the only one. Movies speak to us in a myriad different ways for a myriad of different reasons but fundamentally, they - like mirrors - reflect back to us our humanity, and that's something that connects us all.

Silver Screenings said...

A lovely, poignant essay. Some films have that same effect on me... I'm glad I'm not alone. ;)


Beautiful article! More and more, I'm focusing on movies and TV shows in order to escape reality - and try to find inspiration. I'm happy to say that sometimes I can find the inspiration and meaning to go on.
P.S.:if your friend likes insulting people, he's not a good guy - just an idiot.