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.


ellen abbott said...

I've thought that myself. The country is too big and too diverse to be one. Although I'm not so sure the division is along north/south lines. And I would certainly have hated for slavery to have continued. But really, how long would it have anyway? Machines would have replaced slaves just as they did paid labor. Perhaps if we had followed the European model of smaller countries united there would not be so much strife.

The Bug said...

Well that's all well & good, but I'm from NC & I'm not sure I would have wanted my heritage to be based on that division (like it isn't already based on it - wake up Dana!).

Dr. M & I were just talking about Colin Firth last night - yum is right!

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Goodness Reya, we had an old friend staying with us this week and I said similar things to him. Not about the civil war but about this country being possibly too big to be controlled by one government. How can you have one national school system for so many, etc. Could one body rule all of Europe? I have no answers, only questions. Must be in the air.
On the lighter note. I have only purchased one mini-series in my whole life (for myself) and that is the one. I swoon every single time. Must pull it out again.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen I agree completely. It's no longer a north/south thing - but ideologically we couldn't be more divided.

Reya Mellicker said...

Jeanette the cold weather is coming - perfect weather for watching Pride and Prejudice!

juscogens said...

Heh. Good stuff to ponder.

One of my faves is The Prince of Tides, in part for having read the book before seeing the movie, in other part, for having practiced as one kind of counsel for a few years.

In that one, it's clear the Prince (the writer) "wants & needs him a shrink" who understands him, and would even give him the narcissistic indulgence of breaking specific ethical rules for him for the sake of making him whole again.

That's one of the ones, when you trace the arc of the characters as they might exist in real life, you say to yourself about the outcome: Only in the movies. :)

Nancy said...

As for a series, I'm hooked on The Tudors. I get them through Netflix. Can anyone be more charismatic and evil than Henry III?

My all time fav movie is Love Actually. Hmmm, starting to see a pattern here with England.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh yeah, only in the movies.

Nancy I own Love Actually. It's one of my holiday time movies. It is so so so sweet. LOVE THE BRITS!

C.M. Jackson said...

reya--the rescue of the 33 miners in Chile shows us what is possible if we all believe in and work for the greater good. Our country is struggling right now but I do believe we will find a way to move through it. Never lose hope and keep asking questions that make for a dialogue---kunda what you do every day with your thoughtful posts--enjoy your weekend. c

steven said...

in the last week of the summer i watched the colin firth as mr. darcy series and couldn't stop watching it was so tasty good to watch a real goof become good, loving,. kind even. it was absolutely dreamy wishful entirely romantic! and you watched it! well yes. there's lots that could be resolved by doing the "wrong" thing or let's even move outside of the binary wrong right and think in terms of goodness. how would we act if the better goodness, truthfulness, were the motivation?! superb post reya!! steven

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you Steven and CM, too.

Yes let's definitely get outside the binary system. Onwards and upwards to the third road of goodness. YES.