I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blue skies and a movie

Mt. Baker and the Sisters
We've had a spate of wonderful blue-sky weather in the Pacific Northwest for more than a week. And there's no rain in the forecast until Thanksgiving Day. Pretty unusual for this time of year, and along with the clear skies we've also had temperatures at least ten degrees colder than normal. Our local ski area, Mt. Baker, opened for the season last Thursday, with lots of fresh snow in the mountains. We often have snow up high with little to no precipitation at sea level. It's been perfect for my taste, if a bit on the chilly side.

Thursday's regularly scheduled hike was when I took this picture from Chuckanut Ridge. As I wrote in my other blog, it was a long hike, 11.5 miles, with lots of elevation gain and loss. Even though I consider myself to be relatively fit, I was pretty sore after that one. But today, Sunday, I feel just fine and am glad I can still manage such a difficult trek. It's one of the hardest that we have on our annual schedule; I knew what I was getting into, but it had been a year, and I'm a year older now.

Speaking of getting older, I went to see a rather unusual movie yesterday, with one of my favorite actors, Robert Redford. My friend Judy and I were a little nervous about how we would like the movie, since it's almost two hours long and has no dialog and only one person in it. The movie is titled All is Lost, about a man alone on a sailboat in the Indian Ocean who endures disaster after disaster. I woke in the middle of the night thinking about the end of the movie, which I won't share with you, but it's a stunning film, in my opinion. Redford is no longer young (he's 77); the man I admired in those movies he starred in decades ago doesn't look anything like the weatherbeaten guy in this movie. But gosh, he's an amazing actor, a consummate professional, better than ever.

When I got home, I went to Rotten Tomatoes to read what others are saying about this movie, because I found it to be almost unbelievable that they were able to make it, or think that anybody would be willing to even go see it. I saw Tom Hanks in Castaway, similar in premise but really nothing like this one. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and this excerpt is taken from the link above (written by Greg Kilday at the Hollywood Reporter):
Chandor [the movie's writer-director] approached the movie's debut at Cannes with some anxiety. It would be the first time Redford would see the completed film. The two were seated side by side at the Palais. About halfway through the film, reacting to a particularly vivid moment they had shared on set, Chandor spontaneously squeezed Redford's knee. "He looked at me and smiled a little bit, and I could see he was proud," he says. "We looked around, and we could see people leaning forward in their seats. At the moment, I knew, whether the movie goes on to success or not, people were getting what we were trying to do."
 Without giving anything more away about this film, the reason I think it resonated so deeply within me is that I identified with this man (he's never even given a name in the movie) who was presented with incredible obstacles and kept on trying to find a solution. The only dialog in the movie is at the beginning, which we realize later is the text of a message he has placed in a jar and released into the sea, in hopes that it might one day reach his family.

Last night as I tossed and turned, with the image of the movie's final scenes playing in my mind's eye, I tried to understand why I couldn't let it go, why I kept going over and over that ending. I think I finally figured out why (but I'm not going to tell you, in case you decide to see it yourself).

Life is never something we escape. It's something we live, we endure, as well as enjoy each precious moment we are given on this earth. But one day, it will come to an end. Watching Robert Redford's beautiful, craggy face as he lives his life, on and off screen, is both a testament to our willingness to endure incredible difficulties, and a reminder that even those people we admired in our youth still continue to grow old, die, and (in this case) continue to inspire us. The link to the Hollywood Reporter is about the making of the movie, which is fascinating in its own right.

Yes, that's it. In writing this down and thinking about it, I now feel released from the hold that film had on me. That said, any time I will have a chance to see Redford in anything at all, I'll go and watch this man who still owns my heart. I've seen lots of movies, but there are only a few that I will think about hours or even days later, and this is one of them.

In this upcoming Thanksgiving week, I'll ponder the things I am grateful for, and one I won't forget is that we are never ever really truly alone, no matter what. Never forget that, dear ones. I wish you an abundant and wonder-filled week, until we meet again.


CiCi said...

The movie sounds almost overwhelming, but I will certainly want to see it. I don't go to movies at the theater but I will eventually see this film. I enjoy reading your reviews and I read between the lines so to speak since I have come to know you well. But when I can't sleep after seeing the movie, I am going to call you and have you talk it out with me so be prepared to be awakened by your Nebraska blogging buddy!

Deb Shucka said...

I got my post published this morning before you did, so I'm reading this afterwards. I'm a bit stunned by the parallels, even though our approaches are so different. It's really all about living what's in front of us with the full knowledge that it's going to end. I love the connection between your hiking and the message of the movie.

I've always loved Redford, and have been reluctant to see this movie because I don't see how it can end in any but one way. You've made me think I won't mind so much. I'll let you know.

Linda Reeder said...

I've always been a bit annoyed by the quest for the meaning of life. Life is for living, the best that we can.
In that sense, life is precious. We only get to do it once. From your movie review, this movie seems to confirm this.
I have been so busy lately that I haven't paid much attention to movies, but there are a few I want to remember to see at some point. this will be one of them.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Fascinating post. Robert Redford has always been a favorite of mine. I'm not certain I would want to see him so old now, but you've made me most curious.

Also, the power of the pen to rid ourselves of what revolves in our minds. Getting it down can be such a fine release. Always.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I hadn't heard about this film, but I'll watch for it now. Sometimes I think it's a terrible irony that we humans are so self-aware and so driven to want to live and yet nobody gets to live forever. Just one of the strange facts of life, I guess.

Arkansas Patti said...

I hadn't heard about this movie and since we have no theaters here, I will head for Netflix and save it for when it comes out on DVD.
Old Man and the Sea was rather like that and it was powerful.

Sally Wessely said...

Wow, there a lot in this post. As usual, you have written a post to pique our interest in a new thought, book, or movie. I always wish I had a study group with me when I leave a movie like this. I guess I will have to see it now.

Robert Redford is an amazing actor and one of my favorites. Yes, he is getting old. Sometimes I can't decide if he has aged well or not. Then, I think that "Yes, he had aged very well." His face shows even more character than it once did.

Robert Redford was a client of my son's about ten years ago. My son was his banker. He rarely spoke with "Bob," but he did meet with him in person on occasion. I begged my son to take me as his partner to a movie premier that he was invited to attend. I lost out. He took his wife. I did get to go to a concert at Sundance compliments of "Bob," but he wasn't there.

Rian said...

I like Robert Redford, although I don't think I've seen him in anything in a while. I also like Clint Eastwood, and Tom Hanks. We don't go to movies much, but I will try to see this one when it comes out on DVD (or is it the type of movie where it's much better to see on the big screen? Some definitely are due to the scenery involved...)

Far Side of Fifty said...

Sounds like the movie really touched your soul. That doesn't happen very often..just enjoy it:)

Meryl Baer said...

I heard about the movie but was not especially interested in seeing it. You changed my mind.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda Myers said...

It's on my Netflix list!

Anonymous said...

i don't see too much of movies, so i don't have an idea on it.
Picture looks so beautiful with the blue mountains.

Anonymous said...

I loved Redford in The Way We Were with Barbra Steisand, and in The Sting with Paul Newman, but since I rarely watch movies anymore, I have not seen him recently. You make this movie sound exciting. I'll tell David about it. Maybe he will rent it later.

Jackie said...

You've piqued my interest about the movie, Jan. I plan to see it now; thank you for your recommendation.
I send you and your family wishes for a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

Rita said...

I already had this movie in my queue and now I really can hardly wait until it becomes available on DVD. I still think he's such a handsome man! I admire the fact that he has just aged and not tried to pretty himself up for the camera. He's such an outdoorsman that it's no surprise that he looks a big craggy, but all of his interesting life shows on his face. What a film to take on at 77!

I love the perfect shots of Mt. Baker you got on that last hike. Have a glorious week!! :)

Ann Summerville said...

Beautiful picture. I love the Pacific northwest.

Glenda Beall said...

I love a good movie but don't often go since Barry died. Recently I went to a move with my sister and her husband and enjoyed it - popcorn and all. Robert Redford and Paul Newman were my favorite actors and I still love Redford in anything. I had not heard of this movie, but I will look for it. We might never get it here in our small rural theater, but I will see it somehow.
I love the photos of those beautiful mountains. Thanks for sharing.
Wishing you the best for Thanksgiving and always.

Stella Jones said...

The movie sounds interesting and not unlike The Life of Pi maybe? We are all on uncharted seas at times aren't we. We all have different skills, but together we are a formidable force. Happy Thanksgiving D-Jan! and thank you for your comment on my blog yesterday.

Anonymous said...

WOW, gorgeous! *´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ Happy Thanksgiving! ¤