Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Prince of Tides

Okay, now that the election is in the past, I'm going ahead in healing mode by blogging about something beautiful.

This morning, sick of the news and the endless speculation of astonished pundits, I decided to watch The Prince of Tides, a lovely film directed by Barbra Streisand in 1991.

This film is based on one of my top two favorite books (I go back and forth between The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.) I just realized both of them died in the last two years.

Anyway, Conroy, who wrote the screenplay with a partner, was an astonishing writer. A victim of abuse from his hardlined father, he created beautiful lyrical language to describe cruelty committed on children by abusive parents. The prose was so magnificent you could not look away even from the most violent passages. Also, like Harper Lee, he was born and raised in the South. Filled with all the attitudes, history, and social habits unique to this region which many of us call home.

The film stars Barbra Streisand as the NY psychiatrist Susan Lowenstein. Nick Nolte gives one of his best performances as Tom Wingo, jolly football coach, always laughing to hide the severe trauma of his family's past. His sister Savannah, played by Melinda Dillon, has once again tried to commit suicide in her new home of NYC. A noted poet, she has tried to kill herself many times. Tom is called to come to NYC to be with his sister. There he meets Susan Lowenstein, her psychiatrist. The vivid tale moves with grace through an unfolding of long held family secrets as the doctor tries to determine why Savannah is so broken.

This is a powerful film has abundant healing in it, not only for Savannah, but for Tom and Lowenstein as well. The dialogue often matches the incredible prose in the novel.

It's a beautiful film filled with joy and astonishing grief at the past which broke the individual members of the Wingo family. Speaking as a long-time social worker, the responses to the trauma are based in reality.

If you would like to witness healing on a major scale, watch this gorgeous film, or even (gasp!) read the magnificent novel which was the basis for the film.

Pat Conroy also wrote The Great Santini, an autobiography of him, his siblings and his domineering father. If you've read that one or seen the film, you will get an idea just how rough Mr. Conroy's childhood was.

I know it doesn't always make sense, but pain is often the impetus for great literature, films, music, and other artforms.

Art in all its forms also gives us examples of people being able to survive hideous experiences and be healed to live content, fruitful lives.

Have a blessed day as we move on to the future.

Until next time...

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