Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Now, Voyager (1942)

First, there is the fact that the story opens with a heroic psychiatrist sympathetically coming to the aid of a grossly misunderstood woman.

I have to admit, I was a little terrified at this point that the entire movie was going to be told as one sad, doomed flashback of a woman driven insane by unhappiness. UGH. I was not interested in watching that movie. Luckily, this is not that movie!

The psychiatrist springs the woman from her oppressive home for a weekend in the country (which can fix anything, as we have already established in COUNTLESS other movies), and he quotes Walt Whitman to inspire her to start new life: "Untold want, by life and land ne'er granted, / Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find."

And boy does she!

I liked this photo the best of the ones I could find - most of them show her looking aloof and glamorous, but Davis does such a great job of revealing Charlotte's anxiousness in every shot (Kim said "when she looks nervous, she makes me feel nervous") that I wanted a still that would show that nervousness. She is a girl's scared heart inside the body of an old maid...which of course is something just about every woman has felt at some point. Which is why this movie is perfect.

Yup, I said it, perfect - despite the untraditional ending (not happy or unhappy, but not disappointing, either) - this movie perfectly captures the sweetness and sadness of unfulfilled love. It's also a perfect little portrait of a woman's life before and after liberation - from forced and miserable self-sacrifice to independence, to a tentative peace with life, then to a voluntary and fulfilling self-sacrifice.

If this sounds like nonsense, you've got see it for yourself - I assure you there is a lot of fun stuff to look at while you're making up your mind about the moral of the story...there's the stiff and stern Boston Brahmin mother, the cheeky niece, the generous and glamorous sister-in-law, the awesome clothes, the grand house, the cruise and the scenery of Brasil, as seen on the back lots and California by-ways.

And need I remind you of Paul Henreid, aka Victor Laszlo (I was more than halfway through the movie before I could stop thinking of him as Victor Laszlo from Casablanca - it's a hard character to shake) and the over-enthusiastic tour director or the mysteriously Italian Portuguese cab driver? And of course there is always the wise, witty Dr. Jaquith - if only we could all have a psychiatrist like that!

It's pretty much all good here, will definitely watch again - although after I hoarded the DVD for six months without watching it, I'm sure I won't be able to borrow it from Anastasia ever again!


Kim said...

I just recently saw this for the first time and yes, it's amazing! I loved everything about it. Great post!

Jessica said...

Amy, this movie is sitting on top of my tv waiting to be watched, and let me just say, I'm so glad you got to it first. When are you going to put together film school? Tali, Peter, and I are up for it.