Places in the Heart –Presenting 11/12/10
For some of you who attend regularly, there may be a feeling of déjà vu watching this.
The film is set in 1935, the same year that our September movie, The Great Debaters, depicts. Places in the Heart is set in Waxahachie, TX, about a half hour south of Dallas. The Great Debaters was set in Marshall, TX, about 2 hours east of Dallas. I would say they perceive very similar worlds, a time of depression and racism. (A strange coincidence: the Great Debaters depicts Wylie College; the young black boy seen in the pivotal opening scene is named Wylie.)
The Great Debaters was based loosely on a true story. The Director/Writer of Places in the Heart (Robert Benton) returns to the town where he grew up. The screenplay reflects stories he heard about his family history, especially his great-grandmother's struggles after the loss of her husband.
The characters in this movie cross the lines that constrained most in that era… lines of color, gender, physical differences. Perhaps out of desperation, they draw on strengths that might have otherwise been denied the opportunity to contribute. We are drawn in to appreciate the decisions the characters are confronted with as the story unfolds.
Consider: during the depression era, what chance does a single mother and her family really have. How were people limited by traditional gender roles, traditional racial roles, traditional expectations about anyone with disability. What chance does a woman have of supporting a family during the depression? At what cost? Can she keep the family together?
I see this as a movie about the apparent separations and boundaries between us, and the truer connections among us. In fact, you might keep in mind the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. It is defined as the spiritual union of all members of the Christian Church living and the dead, those on earth, in heaven, and, those also who are in the state of purification. They are all part of a single "mystical body", with Christ as the head, in which each member contributes to the good of all and shares in the welfare of all.
Sally Field won the Academy Award for her performance, famously gushing, “You like me!”. There were also nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role(John Malkovich… the first role I saw him in), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lindsay Crouse), Best Director ,(Robert Benton) . Other notable performers include Danny Glover (among his earliest film roles), and Ed Harris & Amy Madigan (Madigan &Harris married after doing this movie).
Director Robert Benton won the Oscar for best original screenplay (He wrote/Directed Kramer vs Kramer, wrote Bonnie & Clyde, the 1978 Superman, What’s Up Doc?.. many others)
John Malkovich as Mr. Will Ray Baker as Sheriff Royce Spalding
Gennie James as Possum Spalding
The “Positive Psychology/Spiritual Values” depicted include Perspective, perseverance, teamwork, courage, humanity and hope. But the depiction of Forgiveness & Mercy stands as one of the most visceral, deeply felt that I have ever encountered.
There is a comment in the background of a scene, that might be selected to set the tone for this filem, a quote from , E. C Bentley "Between what matters and what seems to matter, how should the world we know judge wisely?" ###########
(Sister/Brother-in-Law.. relationship/affair?—invite audience to suggest its place in the movie…perhaps that people without trauma have tragedy too)
film, while the Spaulding kids are trying Malkovich's player, I believe, a
brief excerpt from "Trent's Last Case" is heard. Within it is a
major, if not the major, theme of the film. I think you should include it among
your memorable quotes:
Most of the film involves characters making choices, many of them difficult, some of them life-threatening. These choices are put into startling relief by the ending sequence of the movie. Although it would be a disservice to summarize Benton's story as just a parable for our times, his comment about choices is extremely thought-provoking.”
“Benton creates his characters with a loving hand, but that does not mean he doesn't see the flaws in the people there, the racism, the sexism, the hypocrisy and the pettiness”
(As read in movie Corinthinians 1:13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. 13:2 And though I have a gift of prophecy, and all knowledge, and have not love, I am nothing. 13:3 And though I bestow all of my goods to feed poor, and have not love, it profit me nothing. 13:4 Love is patient, kind, Love is not jealous or boastful. 13:8 Love never ends. )
“On the night before his crucifixion, our lord gathered with his disciples. He broke the bread and blessed it, saying take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup and said drink, this is my blood which I shed for thee. )
13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 13:2 And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 13:3 If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, 1 but do not have love, I receive no benefit.
13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 13:6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13:8 Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 13:10 but when what is perfect 2 comes, the partial will be set aside. 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, 3 I set aside childish ways. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror indirectly, 4 but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
How does it feel to see her cleaning the body?
During the film, while the Spaulding kids
are trying Malkovich's player, I believe, a brief excerpt from "Trent's Last
Case" is heard. Within it is a major, if not the major, theme of the film.
I think you should include it among your memorable quotes:
"Between what matters and what seems to matter, how will the world we know choose wisely?
The ending of the movie is based upon the
Christian doctrine of the "communion of the saints." God being
infinite is constrained by neither time nor location. Thus God is present
regardless of place, period, or circumstance. Likewise, those who belong to God
(aka: saints) are eternal through God.
So, in the ending of the movie, it is not that a bunch of dead people have shown up. Instead, all those who belong to God are present. While we are struck by the fact that Wiley and the Sheriff are both present to receive communion, we should first be struck by the fact that the woman who died in her car during the tornado is present, the honkey tonk band is present (they are not dead, but are unlikely to be in church on a Sunday morning), Moze is present (even though he has hit the road to avoid retribution by the KKK, and probably wouldn't be in a white Baptist church in Waxahachie,Tx in 1935). Lots of people are present, whether they are dead or not. It is a message of hope, of redemption, but also of judgement. The Klan members are absent.
It is not a dream sequence. It is a faith sequence.
(\ This scene is the best symbolic image I�ve ever seen of �the communion of the saints,� the Holy Eucharist or Lord�s supper in which we are united in remembering Christ�s sacrificial death and resurrection, and also the mystical unity of the church, the Body of Christ, which exists both now and in eternity.
Wikipedia The Communion of Saints (in Latin, communio sanctorum), when referred to persons, is the spiritual union of all members of the Christian Church living and the dead, those on earth, in heaven, and, for those who believe in purgatory, those also who are in that state of purification. They are all part of a single "mystical body", with Christ as the head, in which each member contributes to the good of all and shares in the welfare of all.
Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following English translation of the Apostles' Creed. In its discussion of the Creed, the Catechism maintains the traditional division into twelve articles, the numbering of which is here added to the text.
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and life everlasting.
n Catholic terminology, the Communion of Saints is thus said to comprise the Church Militant (those alive on earth), the Church Penitent (those undergoing purification in Purgatory in preparation for heaven), and the Church Triumphant (those already in heaven). The damned are not among the Communion of Saints.
Sally Field won Best Actress Oscar (In 1985, when Sally Field reached the podium to accept her second Oscar (the first was for Norma Rae), she uttered the memorable (and much-mocked) line, "I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"