House of Literature Bookmobile

This is the place I share book (movie) selections and reviews I have found worth mentioning. I'll also share gleanings of family life, faith, home education, and ongoing writing projects. Book selections will include children's books, books on home education, Catholic books, classics, series, raising children, and books that are made for reading under a shady oak tree with lemonade, in a bubble bath with a latte', or next to a snuggly fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cold Mountain

My oldest daughter and I watched Cold Mountain yesterday. Be forewarned, it is rated 'R' . Luckily, my daughter's friend warned us ahead of time. The two sxx scenes are grounds to not allow anyone under 15 to watch this (and only mature 15 yr olds at best), and I still fast-forwarded through those scenes. It was too much of too much, even for a matronly 39-yr-old. (That's me!) The war scenes (especially the one at the beginning) were too upsetting and gross for me to watch.

But I like a good Civil War love story and I'm a fan of Nicole Kidman. Even better I like my 15-yr-old daughter inviting me to watch a movie with her. I've never cared that much for Renee Z. (however you spell her last name), but she was great in this movie. The movie really got lively when she entered the scene. I'll also give her credit for Chicago. She looks like a Roaring Twenties woman.

I found the love story very contrived. I think the whole story would have held more weight had the two main actors established a courtship before he packed off into the army. But, such is Hollywood...

Other than the swiftness of the love interest---that seemed quick-silvered into the script to place the love story at the forefront of the movie---there were parts of the movie that made it worth watching.

There is one scene that fluxed the artist in me. The two women characters portrayed by Nicole and Renee are building a fence, trying to do man's work of repairs around a farm. Nicole begins lamenting that this is the first constructive thing she's ever done in her life. Before that she knew only French and hand-embroidery and piano, but this was the first thing she has ever done that made a difference. The other accomplishments of her life no longer matter in the culture-of-war that she now lives in.

For some reason that gave me pause. What have I done in my lifetime that has made a difference?

And what is it about patching a fence on a farm that is so much more constructive than speaking French, embroidering a picture, or playing the piano?

Suddenly I realized when classical education and a liberal arts education fell out of favor in America. It had to have begun during the impoverished days of the Civil War. Suddenly a classical education no longer mattered to families. Art didn't feed a hungry baby. Poetry did not feed a houseful of people. Speaking French did not stop the carpetbaggers from taking over your farm. Embroidering a shirt did not matter if there were no shoes to wear through the winter.

They needed hands that knew how to work a farm. They needed hands that knew how to sew a dress out of a curtain and make new harnesses. They needed minds that could bargain for supplies and handle the frugality of money without wasting it. They needed strong backs that could plow a field, repair a fence, plant a garden, or work a trade. They needed sharp minds who could alter figures so the carpetbaggers could not make claim to the family farm.

Classics and liberal arts held nothing for the common man. Nothing at all except, perhaps, memories and dreams that were gone with the wind.

Yet there is a redemptive scene immediately following: it is night and only the candles near the piano burns. Nicole's character is playing a beautiful piece on the ivories and Renee's character (a harsh, hill-billy, redneck of a woman) is silently witnessing the melody from the recesses of the stairwell. Silently, and ever so gently, she begins to sway back-and-forth, back-and-forth. She closes her eyes and continues to sway...and the music plays on. The moment is solemn, the moment brings calm to the troubled heart and peace to the troubled soul.

The achieved moment brings hope for a better tomorrow.

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