Sunday, February 2, 2014

Spoiler Alert: The Broken Circle Breakdown

SPOILER ALERT The Broken Circle Breakdown

I thought it a wonderful movie. My view of it is that thematically it put a coldly materialist view of the world--Didier--against a softer, spiritually yearning view of the world--Elise--in the face of a most wrenching imaginable tragedy, the terminal illness of a beautiful young child and then her death.

The movie's music, a couple of hundred years of peoples' responses to the terrible vagaries of life, its terrible fatedness, is full with songs about death and dying and grotesque human conduct, with the promise of heaven waiting. Take Go To Sleep Little Baby, a lullaby draped in death and cold loneliness. It was sung in Brother Where Art Thou too.

Didier is quite block headed, IMO, about his atheism. So even when his cancer stricken daughter projects her child's terrifying anxiety onto the bird that kills itself flying into the glass "terranda" he can barely bring himself to affirm her longing for some beneficent meaning in the "birdie's" death. After Maybelle's death, Didier can't bring himself to soften his insistent rationalism to allow Elise to find some comfort in spiritual signs, hopes and beliefs. His block headedness, almost fanaticism, about his view of the world reaches a minor high point when he argues against warning birds with signs not to fly into the glass on the basis that will slow down evolutionary progress in them towards a biological answer evolving in them over time.

In my view, maybe idiosyncratic, he can't really understand the music he plays and sings, which is so full with religion's answer to life's deepest mysteries. Happiness can exist kind of easily and thoughtlessly when things go well and right, but the existential rubber meets the meaningless road when tragedy strikes.

So, more profoundly, he finally drives, Elise, now Alabama, away from him and to her own death by his uncontrollable stridency and aggressiveness about what has befallen Maybelle. Even his uncontrollable outburst at the final performance shows his need for meaning beyond brittle rationalism to accommodate his deep grief. Had he been more sensitive, more yielding, more comforting, he might have saved his love with Elise, of even as Monroe and  Alabama, with the American type promise of a fresh start. At the end finally he succumbs much too late, two deaths too late,when he whispers to his dead wife to greet his daughter for him in heaven.

I didn't talk about some of things in the movie I felt contrived, like the final music at Elise's bedside, because right now I'm not in the mood to puncture the hold the movie has on me with criticisms of it.

Your thoughts on any of this?

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I am agnostic. I abandoned my religion a couple of years ago, and still I am struggling to fill the emptiness it left behind. It is not easy when the answer is not simply god to everything. I can not argue with the inspiration and the comfort that religion provides for the believers. I think this music is one of the best products religion gave us.