Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

January 20, 2004

Cold Mountain Blues

Starting this webble was one event in a chain that has really opened me up and made me feel tender/tenderized, both from joy and from pain, but I didn't realize how sensitive I have become until I went and tried to watch Cold Mountain last night. I had to leave the theatre twice, and the second time I just went home. I have never done that in my life. I'm an endurer, I usually freeze in scary or unbearable scenes until its over, but I couldn't handle this. I knew from the first line of the movie that I was going to be disturbed, and I almost walked right out of the theatre then. It was something about the Civil War changing two people until they could bearly recognize themselves and they didn't know how they were going to move on, or something like that. And that's the issue that rankled me about the last Lord of the Rings movie, with Frodo never really getting happy and all better or transformed or something like that. Anyways, from the start, I really connected with the main characters of Cold Mountain, Aida and Enman, because they are both so awkward, insecure about themselves and each other, just unsure and a little alone, and the tenuousness of the relationship between them, how unresolved it seemed, made the horrors of war that they both dealt with seem ten times more devastating. And the battle scenes and people killing people scenes were so real to me in this movie. I've seen lots of battle scenes and violent movies, but the director usually puts some distance between you and the death, whether by absurdity, overkill, humor, or crazy or dramatic music. But this seemed un-doctored, and maybe it was real to me because the Civil War WAS real and was fought relatively recently right here in the U.S. You know, you would think that I would have been prepared for this movie, seeing as I READ THE BOOK. But I must have forgotten most of it. I think I read it when it was first published or something.

I sometimes go to movies to see a piece of a life different than mine, to learn more about the human experience and the different ways to handle that experience. I often abstract the movie so I can look at it next to my life. Sometimes I learn new things, sometimes I'm grateful that I've figured out more than the characters in the movie. Being as open as I feel right now, however, this brutally sad, infuriating, and horrible (in the sense of horror) movie created an abstraction and analogy to the spiritual world that showed me some really painful things about spiritual and physical death and especially violence. I haven't cried that hard or deeply in many months, maybe even years. I was totally overtaken by my feelings. The ripping apart of the country into civil war, and the reality of what that meant to inviduals reminded me of what its like when terrible disunity exists in a place and the dark nastiness that rules when the light of justice and unity are obscured.

I'm feeling better about it now (the next morning), but still pretty shaken. There's a lot to think about.

Posted by Bahiyyih at January 20, 2004 09:00 AM

Wow! I'm so glad you had an outlet like this one to share all that. I think this movie and Gangs of New York did the same thing for me. They both had incredibly realistic feeling violence in them. And it wasn't a spectator sport either. I think movies like Gladiator, and most action movies just want you to see the violence. But these two movies want you to see it, feel it, and let it shake you up. Thinking about Cold Mountain afterwards I realized how violent our world is but we're removed from it. When one character in the movie kills a little goat you start to think, Jeesh, does everything end in death? But what I thought of, and I learned this in South Dakota where I helped butcher several animals, is how removed from violence we are (which is a good thing!). We don't have to see our food being butchered, we don't have to see people dying in Iraq. The fact that the Civil War was portrayed in the movie really hit me too. This was the most recent war fought on our soil, and that affected everyone. I think if a movie were made 100 years from now that takes place now, they would be just as amazed at how violent our world is as I was at the Civil War era.
Anywho, let's go see a happy movie next time!

Posted by: Husayn at January 20, 2004 01:45 PM

Yeah. I've noticed the danger inherent in living lately. In a peaceful way, mostly. Just, 'hmm, life's dangerous'. Just nature stuff like if you try walking on a frozen lake, you better know how thick that ice is. I would want at least a solid foot.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at January 20, 2004 02:45 PM

I may have told you this, Biyyah, but when I was pregnant with you, Danny and I went to see "Tommy." That was the only movie I ever walked out on. Even "Saving Private Ryan" was endurable for me. Guess I'll skip "Cold Mountain." I think it's hysterical that you read the book. Must have been a different animal than the movie.

Posted by: Susan Engle at January 20, 2004 07:38 PM

Re Cold Mountain: I knew from the ads that the movie would be disappointing compared to the book, so I'm refusing to go on principle. Also, Bahiyyih, I don't think you forgot so much. I think the book was, as your mom said, a different animal. The book was much more about Aida and Enman's inward journeys to be ready for each other. About Frodo: he does get better. It's just that he has to leave the Shire to heal. I see this as a metaphor for leaving the physical plane and becoming pure spirit. Some wounds are so deep and horrific that only being in the presence of God in the next world heals them. I think being the ringbearer is analagous to that kind of pain. I see the ring as representing attachment -- of any and all kinds. It's an especially apt metaphor for addiction. Strangely, all this ties together for me. The quotes about traveling to the spiritual plane resonate deeply with me at this time. 12 years ago this month, my brother had a cocaine-induced seizure behind the wheel, resulting in an accident that left him in a coma for nearly 6 years before he finally passed. I find that I think about these things a lot at this time of year. Thanks for the quotes and for this wonderful forum to connect with each other. With love --

Posted by: Amy Eades at January 20, 2004 11:28 PM

Thanks Amy, for sharing all that good stuff. Your perspective really helps me work through it.

Posted by: Bahiyyih at January 21, 2004 10:08 AM

Elaine Combs (from Herrin) and I went to see the movie a couple of Sundays ago. I left the theater after it was over and had a COLD feeling. The violence was too much for me and often I was looking down so as to avoid seeing it. Glad I went with another
Bahai ! !

Posted by: Janet Moslehi at January 24, 2004 08:30 PM