When an motion picture transcends the usual trappings of a stagnated formulaic money-grabbing endeavor and becomes something relatable, something that takes you on a voyage to an distant memory, a moment in time, is when movie magic is at its most profround.
I vaguely recall what led me to view The English Patient for the first time. It was the mid-nineties and most of my movie choices were based on what my son wanted to watch,comedies and super hero movies and whatnot and i enjoyed every moment we spent in the theater, it was our thing, a shared love for film. But when he was back at his moms house and I slowly dissolved into my solitude, I found myself yearning for a deeper movie experience, I wanted something that made me think, I just craved something unique.
I went to the local video store and walked around in a trance, indecisive and frustrated. Silly action movies or implausible thrillers lining the shelves, I abstained. I happened upon this rack that only contained movies that had won an Academy Award at some point, I was rather intrigued. I glanced at the The English Patient cover, the handsome face of the dapper Ralph Fiennes preening back at me, I was borderline aroused. The cover said something about an epic, sweeping romance and that the film was over three hours long. I was no longer borderline aroused, I was at the point of climax.
My intention with this post is not to do a full-fledged movie review and I’ve definitely gotten a tad off track here. So let’s get back to the crux of why I’m writing this, the scene posted above.
This isnt just a scene from a movie, its also a portal into our own lives. The way he stares at her with smoldering eyes as she dances, seemingly carefree, with another man. His aggressiveness when he pushes her against the wall, his anger barely contained. The way she doesn’t face him, trying to hide her own pain, trying to hide her true love for him. His sudden tenderness when he lightly touches her back, his longing for her is palpable. The scene perfectly orchestrates how differently people react to heartache and loss. Whether you internalize it and put on a public face, a facade that she uses as a coping mechanism or you wear your heart on your sleeve as he does, his eyes and body language revealing all that he’s endured, his pain evident.
The potency of this scene becomes much more endearing because its relatable, its applicable to our own past. Don’t we all have that one past lover where the embers still glow a little? Don’t we all have that one ghost that secrecetly we want to ask…. Dance with me?