Thursday, 21 February 2008

Boys Don't Cry

I saw another of the Metropolitan Opera's "Live in HD" performances on Saturday, and once again I was not disappointed. I didn't really know the story of Manon Lescaut, or of Puccini's adaptation, but my mum knew something of it and had picked this one out as one of the four she wanted to see for this season.

As with Eugene Onegin last year, I was completely entranced from start to finish. So far this year I have already seen operas of Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet, but somehow they didn't quite match up to the Manon Lescaut on Saturday, and all have failed to capture me as Eugene Onegin did. I'm not sure why exactly, but I wonder if it is precisely because I know the stories of Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet so well that they didn't grip me as much; I was always wondering (knowing that adaptations take small liberties) "Is that character going to appear?" "I wonder how they will do this?" and so on. Not knowing Eugene Onegin or Manon Lescaut beforehand perhaps allowed me to just soak it all in without thinking about what was to come.

One thing that both Onegin and Manon Lescaut have both managed to do is get me really choked up. Now, I'm not a macho guy by any stretch, and I'm not so reserved as thinking that there is something wrong per se with men crying, but I like to keep my tears to myself if at all possible. Onegin and Manon Lescaut involved me so much that I almost lost it; Des Grieux's grief and pleading at the end of Act III on Saturday was so emotional that it was as if it had cut me to the quick. Similarly, there were several moments in the performance of Onegin I saw last year that almost reduced me to tears, even more so than Manon Lescaut.

I'm not about to expouse some great theory about all this, but I think that there is something profoundly amazing with art/media - be it opera, theatre, film, literature, whatever - if it can effect an emotional response in a person to move them to tears or have them welling up. Comedy, drama, an interesting philosophical notion that makes you think for hours afterwards, all of these are good... But to move a person to tears is something else altogether; I think it's maybe because tears are such a private thing, we associate them with such personal events in our lives.

I don't remember the last time I watched a film that moved me that much*. And I could count on one hand the number of times a book has moved me so profoundly ("Flowers For Algernon," "Earth Abides," the last few chapters of "The Return Of The King").

How about you? What art/media moves you?

More soon.

*OK, I do remember, it was Terminator 2 when the Terminator is lowered into the steel at the end of the film. "I know now why you cry... But it is something that I can never do."

In my defence, I was a kid at the time!


Bilbo said...

I am often moved by music, art, and - occasionally - films. The most moving bit of media I've seen in years was the scene in the Peter Jackson film "The Return of the King" in which King Theoden rallies his army to come to the aid of the besieged city of Gondor. You see the king ride to the front of his army and look out over the burning city, surrounded by tens of thousands of savage orcs, and the look on his face is one of pure horror and fear...but that look slowly melts into steely resolve, and he rallies his men as he rides down the front of the line, pivots, leads three mighty cheers of "DEATH!!", and then leads the charge. I can never see that scene too many times.

Amanda said...

I hate crying at anything because I always feel that people then lump me in the 'girly' category. Yes, I am a girl...but I just don't like being categorized.

Having said all that, there has been PLENTY that have moved me to (near) tears. LOL! Right now, I'm trying to decide if I should watch the movie 'The Notebook' because the book had me crying so much I could hardly see to read the last few chapters!

mattiecore said...

Kenneth Fuchs' "Eventide"