Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

9-17-13 RMB Short Term 12

9-17-13 RMB Short Term 12

Dear Rita Mae Brown,
Tonight some friends and I went to see the movie Short Term 12. As one friend said about my RMB letters, “They have everything you want to read in whatever you read.” A like description fits this film. It has everything you want to see in a movie you go to see.

It has bad guys, good guys, epic struggle, both within and outwards, a love story, love on many levels, pain of many origins, sorrow and joy. And yet it also, in the mere 96 minutes, makes you laugh out loud at unexpected moments. It has laughter and gives laughter to the audience. Many movies do one or the other. This one does both.

With all we see on large and small screens, in the news and on our streets, we become numb; numb to the heartbeats between the words; numb to the pain behind the tears; numb to levels below the surface. Between those levels the seeds of laughter, or despair, are planted. It is in the cultivating of those seeds that the joy, or the anguish, grow. 

This movie reminds us to look at those levels; to look within ourselves to find the strength to love, the strength to laugh…or understand the consequences of taking another path.

For shock value, movies often show the blood and the scars. And although this movie revealed wounds, there were other scenes that struck me harder. As I watched the characters silently trying to hold themselves together, and the acting is excellent by the way, I remembered my junior year in high school. 

As I watched the characters do something very similar, I recalled listening to the English teacher tell us of Thoreau and his time on Walden Pond while I dug my nail of one hand into my other arm…trying to hold myself together. 

The teacher recited this line and emphasized what it meant to him: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." 

In that classroom at sixteen, I thought it ironic that I struggled so to end my life while others struggled so to live theirs. In the theater at forty nine, I could handle the scars and the blood, the anger and the pain, I even allowed myself to grasp the gravity of the embraces, the love, the honor and the joy…but the sight if a small wound, made in silence by one fingernail, undid me.

The creators of this film understand the levels of humanity, its weakness and its power. It pulled no punches in showing them all. It tells us more than a story. It tells us who we are, what we are capable of, what is important, what is possible…and how it can all end happily ever after…If we determine to make it so.


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