Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Odyssey Home

I viewed a dvd of John Ford's lovingly crafted adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's The Long Voyage Home (1940) the other day with new eyes. If you haven't seen this movie before, you may want to catch the broadcast of it on Monday, May 5th at 2:15 PM EDT on TCM.

I revisited this movie because of my uncle's pointed remark some decades ago, advising me to see this then nearly forgotten movie someday. It was, according to him, "probably among the most beautiful movies ever made." Seen now with adult eyes, I think I can comprehend a fraction of the pull that this story must've had for him. When news came that he had died a few days ago at 94, it struck me that I'd never seen my Uncle Charles more than a handful of times in my life. Consequently I can't say that I knew him well, and certainly not as well as his youngest sister or his five children remember him. Still, he looms large in my memory for the imprint he left on my imagination and heart. I was his youngest niece and all I knew was that when he was around, the air crackled with the electricity of his good talk, good humor, and his passions for art and the natural world, particularly the ocean, a subject that he painted repeatedly, capturing its serene glory and wild fury on canvas, along with the vulnerability of the tenacious few who lived on the water.

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