Getting There

It seems like I’m always rushing to get somewhere – work, home, an appointment. The subway ride most days is an obstacle to getting to one’s destination on time. The daily delays announced with window dressing of concern for those of us trapped on a packed train float by. I’m impatient, hot in my winter coat.. The indignity of the commute. 

A week ago an announcement of a personal injury at track level and the shutdown of part of the train service. To avoid the crowds waiting for the shuttle buses, I walk to the other subway line. I’m very late for work already, but instead of hurrying, I walk slowly through one of the streets where U of T encroaches on the city. It’s sunny and crisp. I’m exasperated at the subway, life and then I remind myself that someone probably died, so my lateness is not important in the larger scheme of things.

This time of year there too many meetings, too much Festivus, too many deadlines and lists – to do, best of, summing up. I’m worried about time going by. I’m both reassured and saddened by the things I see and read. James Wood writing on life, death and the novel. My fear of endings heightened by his analysis. Still, I get enormous pleasure from seeing a huge sentence in his essay – a sentence that makes up an entire paragraph, a sort of antithesis of the rules of writing in the other world – the business world. My bread and butter, made up of pithy sentences and bullet points.

In the evening, I catch on the French channel the last hour of “Les Enfants du Paradis”. I’m amazed how incredibly moving it is, the good the dialogue is (written by the great Jacques Prevert) and most of all how timeless it seems. Arletty/Garance (who needs more than oe name) moves through the lives of the four male characters without losing herself in them. She remains independent and unattainable. Roger Ebert, you were wrong that Arletty was too long in the tooth to portray an object of desire. Her age is irrelevant.

“Les Enfants du Paradis” is about so many things. Life and theatre. Social class. Jealousy. Time.

I was thinking that “Mysteries of Lisbon” has similar themes to “Les Enfants du Paradis”. Both films are about chasing something that is elusive. Characters seem to be trapped playing parts written for them by unseen narrator. 

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