On J’s most recent trip out of town I decided to humor myself and get all kinds of chick flicks I had seen over the years but wanted to see again. The fact that they were all available gratis at the library made it even better.
I thought Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility was one of the loveliest movies I’d ever seen when it first came out (1995). The scenery, the costumes, the casting…all was perfection. I empathized with Marianne and her romantic self, believing in love and poetry, so unwilling to be constrained by society’s mores. Elinor, as the older sister, seemed staid and repressed. I understood someone needed to think about the butcher’s bill but to put up with Lucy Steele’s mincing and sly asides about her secret engagement to Edward Ferrars- not possible!
Imagine my shock and surprise then, when, as Marianne first goes flitting off across the hills and falls, I think, ‘Really? In those fabric flats? On a wet slippery slope? Duh!’ Such solitary discourse (I can talk out loud to the TV when J isn’t home) continued until the point when Marianne pulls this puerile stunt again and ends up deathly ill. At this point I want to bitch slap her and I don’t care if she dies. Here is Elinor bearing the burdens of the entire family and having her love crushed and this twit makes everyone dance to her song. I was disgusted. My heart was moved for poor strong Elinor, whose emotions were so tightly controlled that only when she learns Edward is not married and does love her, breaks down completely. I, too, collapse on the floor in tears of joy and release.
What has happened? Obviously, the movie hasn’t changed so it’s me that is different. Has life left me so hardened and disillusioned that I can’t appreciate true romance anymore? No. At best, time has given me the ability to see the difference between romance and love and while they aren’t mutually exclusive, only one lasts. True love is not only flowers, trinkets, and fancy dates. It’s the man who can see the worst of you (and I’m not just talking about sans make-up) and still find you lovable (Why I don’t know but he does. Lucky me).
I also have significantly less patience for the self-absorbed and often the people emoting the most may be truly feeling the least (for anyone besides themselves). They are the hummingbirds of emotion- flitting from one flower to the next; beautiful but insubstantial. True love is Colonel Brandon- steadfast and responsible while the dashing Willoughby plunders virgins and misleads Marianne. Sure he’s hot and Brandon a bit more careworn but, looks fade. Weakness of character does not.
It’s still a lovely movie and at least I empathize with someone in it but it is always a bit startling to revisit a book or movie I’ve loved in the past and find that my take on it has changed dramatically. I am not wild headstrong impulsive Marianne anymore but am content to be Elinor, quietly taking care of things (and only pitching a hissy fit when absolutely necessary).
Do you revisit favorite books or movies? What do you think? Have your feelings changed?