Monday, February 18, 2008

"Flying Betwixt Clouds..."

I've watched 2 films this week with similar theme: the fragility... and with it, the beauty... of the fractured and disintegrating mind.

Last night BBC TV showed a documentary about the last weeks of jazz musician George Melly; he was dying from cancer and suffering from increasing dementia. It was moving ( not a word to use lightly..) because the film revealed (through tender glimpses into Melly's confusion) the absolute essence of this funny, sexy, difficult, generous man. We saw who he'd become and through this, we saw who he'd been. There was laughter/ gentleness, sadness/strength, even some joy; there was also a measure of anger and grief too....but throughout, there was a bravery of the human spirit....particularly from Melly's wife, Diana, who, amongst other marvellous things, allowed a troupe of ex girlfriends ( including a turbanned bejewelled crimson-lippied Molly Parkin) to visit ( with merriment) his deathbed..

THEN earlier in the week, we watched " Away from her", the Oscar nominated film directed by Sarah Polley. The film is adapted from a story by Alice Munro: "The Bear came over the mountain" and it stars Gordon Pinsent ( gravitas by the ton here ) and Julie Christie, who at 67, still has that luminosity associated with much younger women.. ( and then, only a lucky few)

AND Christie's wistful character, Fiona ( diagnosed with Alzeimers) remained beautiful to the end: her bewilderment was peaceful, it was sometimes harsh, and although some of her comments were misted and tragic, some had that wonderful sharpness I recognised...

BECAUSE Laura's mind "flew betwixt clouds" ( just as my own mother's once did)..... and Christie gave a performance I for one will never forget.
( OK.....I phrased that badly in the circumstances...but hopefully you follow my drift..)


Blogger Philippa said...

We saw 'Away From Her' a few months' back and, like you, it was so poignant, having experienced something very similar with our own family. It is tough to see someone you love drift away into a world that is so hard to reach, so hard to comprehend and, oh, so very sad to bear.

10:20 pm  
Blogger elizabethm said...

Did you see the film about Iris Murdoch a couple of years ago? that too was very moving and difficult to watch.

8:20 pm  
Anonymous watermaid said...

This post really spoke to me as my own mother, who came to live with me nine years ago, is suffering from dementia. It is sad when a person is no longer who they were. I'm sorry to have missed the programme about George Melly, who I saw with Mick Mulligan's Jazz Band at a Rag Ball held at M/C Uni many years ago. I saw 'Iris' and also a recent programme about Norman Wisdom who also has dementia. Balke Morrison's 'When Did You Last See Your Father' is also very interesting on this subject.

The panel on 'The Late Show' were not convinced by 'Away From Her' but I will hold judgement until I've seen it.


7:04 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

I'd like to see the Christie film, she has a certain quality that doesn't age.

I hugely enjoyed the Melly programme. Mostly because of generousity and acceptance of his wife. He was quite a rogue I think, but his sheer determination to be "on" until the very end was quite inspiring.

11:51 am  
Blogger Jan said...

But there ARE moments/times of great closeness....whether through an absolute honesty, ( accidental, perhaps) humour...whatever.

Yes, wonderful. And yes, difficult to watch..but strangely compelling.

I hope things aren't too difficult.
Yes, I also saw the Wisdom documentary; like Melly, you saw the real man, warts an'all..

The wife, Diana was fantastic. She must've loved him very much.
And Melly ( in his jazzy way!) adored her.
His last performance on stage was documentary TV at its most moving..
somehow it didn't appear intrusive...just the telling of the story of a man who was once larger than life..

10:08 am  

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