The Man In Black

The lady friend and I finally managed to see Walk The Line this week. Imaginary Readers if you haven't seen it, go for it. It won't be here much longer. It's worth the price of admission, just for the music you get to hear.

I have to admit though, through the first part of the movie I was having flashbacks to Ray. It's like the writer used it as a template. We start out with childhood on the farm in a little rundown house with Mama and brother. There's a big accident, and brother is gone. The feeling of deja vu returns later on in the movie right before Mr. Cash hits bottom. There's a series of scenes where he's arrested for possession and they make him take apart his guitar so they can find his stash. The lesson: to be a legendary musican you have to lose a sibling in a tragic accident and have the police meet you at the airport. And die right before the movie about your life is made.

Brother's accident is obviously a pretty pivotal moment for young Johnny. Afterwards his dad not only blames him for the accident, but tells him that the wrong son died, his brother was so much better. This sets up the secondry theme of the movie, and tells you a lot about what drives young Johnny. No matter how well he does, his father is always critical.

It's a standard theme in art and in life. Every guy wants to make his dad proud. Even if he doesn't like dad, he wants him to be impressed. The reasons seem pretty self-evident, but I've struggled to actually put it into words. Dad is the first male role model any boy has, so he sets the standard for manhood. So gaining his approval is the validation.

Of course the primary thurst of the movie is the relationship between Johnny and June Carter Cash. (I guess I just gave away the ending by including her last name. Oh well.) There was a lot of chemistry between Reese and Joaquin throughout the movie. I can't help wondering though, if my perception of that was affected by knowing about the real world romance. I've heard it mentioned in lots of news reports about how much they were in love, and much is made of the fact that they died only three months apart.

The thing that bothered me about their relationship also bothers me about all the best Hollywood love stories. There's always some other poor sap getting the shaft. In this case, it was Johnny's first wife. For essentially the entire time he's married to her, he's pining over June. First in magazine pictures, and then in real life. Why is it that this is the case for so many movie romances? I suppose some conflict makes for better drama, but I resent the idea that in order to find true love you have to break someone's heart.

I've heard quite often lately, that the great thing about Brokeback Mountain is that it's this amazing love story. But while these two guys are out on the prarie falling in love, they're both neglecting their wives back home. The Bridges of Madison County is supposedly a great romance, but I just kept thinking about her poor ignorant husband. I'm sure it says something about me, that I sympathize with the person left behind. I'm not going to speculate on what it says about me, but I will say that I didn't always have such tendencies.

I think the two main themes of the movie sum up the motivation for most men. Impress the cute girl enough to talk to you, and make dad proud. At least until they win the girl, and become a dad themself.


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