Sunday, June 14, 2009
I watched Emperor of the North for the first time last night, the movie that my friend Slayer Carl refers to most often as his favorite movie, and he's seen a lot of movies, so he should know a good flick. I loved the trains and the sadistic hobo-beating character played by Ernest Borgnine. I loved the fight scene at the end - so f-ing brutal! And believeable, with no crappy special effects to muck it up. Thanks for the reccomendation, Carl.
I was reminded constantly throughout the movie of my dad, and how he probably watched this movie, too, being that he was an avid enthusiast about all things pertaining to old trains. The Lee Marvin character, A-number 1, even looks, talks and dresses like my dad, so you can imagine my piqued interest in the story. It's funny how the older I get, the more my interests in music, books and movies goes backward to the generations that preceded my own. I've been loving Steinbeck's East of Eden, which I find time to stick my nose in every day lately. The first half of the 20th century had so many characters in it's basic make-up. I know there are characters these days, too, but they're often looking for love with a fake tan on some tv show or practicing their original gangsta' speak for their dj gig.
It's funny that all things point back to dad - I relate everything I read and think back to the old man. Being that he lived through both world wars and the depression between them, he saw first-hand the events that were the foundation of American culture. In the beginning of the 20th century, America was still a free-for-all frontier. Lawlessness was common. Brutality of all kinds was the rule. But also simplicity, basic values and kindness were in there somewhere. In the lean years of war and depression, people got by any way they could, skimping on basic needs, growing their own food if they could and surviving alone and in clumps. All the generations leading up to the baby boomers strove so hard to make it, and since then, subsequent generations have had it easy. We don't have access to the kinds of experience and memories of hard times that our parents and grandparents lived through.
Has this new depression taught us anything yet? Are we truly poor enough to really be desperate for change? And, is the decay of our collective character any worse than it has been in past times?
Time for my coffee break!