Most people who have known me for almost any length of time at all, know I have a great love for the movies, especially old movies. Any amount of cable bill is worth every penny as long as I can watch TCM. I might even go so far as to say the liturgical year (in addition to Advent Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time) contains two more seasons: 31 Days of Oscar and Summer Under the Stars. In fact, a great romance blossomed for me during Summer Under the Stars just over two years ago: one with me and Lauren Bacall.
Imagine my joy when TCM began returning classic films to theatres. West Side Story was first for the film’s 50th anniversary. The film was meant to be seen on the silver screen. Many artistic aspects of the film from choreography to cinematography are done an injustice without the theatrical presentation. I fell in love with the movies all over again. What must all the other classic movies be like when presented in their original format?
Last week, TCM brought Singin’ in the Rain to theatres for a second time in honour of the movie’s 60th anniversary. I grew up with this film and have seen it dozens if not scores of times since I could crawl. I can quote lines, sing songs, and beat-box dance steps, right along with the most ardent of fans.
The best part of the movie this time, however, was not the dance, cinematography, music, jokes, or stars. The audience stole the show. My theatre, and theatres around the country, filled with young and old alike to share in a movie that had no car chases, explosions, cursing, sex, brutality, or lewd jokes. Don Lockwood blows a kiss to a girl in the crowd. She faints. The audience bursts into laughter. Don, Kathy, and Cosmo flip over the couch at the end of “Good Mornin’” and the audience breaks into applause. And of course, there’s Lina Lamont famous line: “What do you think I am, dumb or something?” I kept thinking all through the show: what could this movie have that keeps us so captivated? The answer came in one word: innocence.
Our world is broken; this is nothing new. To take a couple hours and immerse oneself into something that points to purity and peace – that is a luxury. I am not glorifying the twenties or Hollywood. I am also not saying one should suppress real life pain. I am saying that art can and should point to God and to the fullness and joy of what it means to be human. Clear definitions of good and bad, a truthful message, and just plain ol’ fun let us be who we are as though we were kids. We do not have to try. We just have to be who we are. For a little while we do not have to ask questions, look to find the path, wonder where our next step is in the darkness, or worry about falling. For a little while we tangibly realize what it means to rest in the arms of Jesus. Perhaps for a little while, the real truth of our faith becomes all the more tangible.