Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On Ephemeral Things

pyrethrum daisy in our garden

- Do you like flowers?
- Not particularly, no. Well, I mean, yes, but we don't really have them around the house.
Mother says, "Why purchase something you can get for free?".
Then, we really don't grow them either. It is silly really.
To put all that effort into something that's just going to die

-Kitty (Naomi Watts) to Walter (Edward Norton)
in The Painted Veil (2006)

Well, I'm not going to spoil The Painted Veil for you by discussing the story. I just think the characters' lines above sum up the personality of the main protagonists, the "lesson" of the story... and maybe, life in general. Some people might not believe in exerting effort in something so temporary or short-lived... like flowers... like sand castles... like love... But the momentary joy you feel by touching the petals, by seeing your castle before the tide comes, by listening to another's heart beat as you gaze at the stars, is worth opening yourself to the probability that they won't last.That they will die. And all you have is the memory of the petals' softness, the castle's grandeur, the heartbeat's resonance.

Moreover, I believe the knowledge that they are transient increases (not diminishes) the drive to capture these moments (no matter how fleeting they are) and enjoy them while they last. Yes, we expose ourselves to disappointment and hurt when they fade away (for many reasons, some of them we don't understand). But, at least, once in our short lives, we felt alive... we LIVED. Well, maybe, I'm just too hopelessly romantic to think this way.

Anyway, regarding the film, if you're into the Out of Africa-The English Patient kind of movie, I think you will like this one. The cinematography is wonderful --- it's a mixture of bucolic charm and nostalgia for the days gone by. Edward Norton is excellent as a reserved and intellectual yet romantic and loyal kind of guy. Naomi Watts is perfect for the lovely, snobbish and flighty -turned-mature and level-headed in the end. They and the rest of the characters are believable. And on the lighter side, I like women's clothes during this period (1920's). It might sound chichi to some, maybe others will find me old-fashioned or even downright dowdy, but hey, not everybody is into the 21st century model-on-the runaway look :).


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