Friday, October 15, 2010
For the greater good?
Casablanca is a perfect film. I've seen it a dozen times; there isn't one moment in that movie that's a waste of my time, even after viewing it again and again. What a movie. Wow. It's an ethical lesson, that movie, about doing the right thing. Of course Ingrid Bergman must stay with her husband. Of course Humphrey Bogart must give her up. Both of them struggle with their feelings for each other, but in the end, they see the forest for the trees. It's WWII, for heaven's sake.
Roman Holiday is another great film. I would not call it perfect, though its charms make up for any imperfections. I love that movie. In the end, Audrey Hepburn goes back to being the stiffy formal princess of some unknown country that needs her, and Gregory Peck, down to his last dollar, decides not to publish the story about her crazy day in Rome. What real life newspaper reporter would ever behave so nobly? Oh well, it was just a movie after all.
In "real" life, the decisions people make are not always so cut and dried. We follow our hearts, which sometimes means we can not see the forest for the trees. The greater good is elusive sometimes. Our heartfelt desires can be so overwhelming. And, too, behaving ethically sometimes involves doing the "wrong" thing. Sometimes the wrong thing leads the the greater good. I knew a sculpture professor who left his wife in order to marry one of his students. It sounds wrong, but it was right - they lived happily ever after, as did his ex-wife who married someone much better suited to her than the sculpture professor.
Lately I've been thinking about Lincoln, doing everything in his power to hold the U.S. together. That was the right thing, but perhaps he should have let go, let the south go. The north vs. south thing never truly resolved itself. Even now the U.S. is trying to pull itself apart; ideologically we are a brutally divided nation. Maybe if we were two separate countries, we wouldn't be so angry. Do you think?
I try to figure these things out until my head begins to throb, at which point I stream a film from netflix, like Casablanca, like Roman Holiday. Recently I watched a five hour mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? YUM. He starts out as such an ass but Lizzy changes him into a loving, open minded, noble man, and marries him at the end of the story. What a beautiful dream! Everything is so much simpler in the movies. Oh yeah.