Uncle Bardie’s Movie Spotlight: The Light Between Oceans

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Movie is “The Light Between Oceans” (2016):

If you had to choose between the one you love and your conscience, which would you choose? This is one of several themes of “The Light Between Oceans”.

Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) returns to his native Australia from the battlefields of World War One. He is a wounded man and he knows he is a wounded man. He can’t get the war out his head. To find some peace, he volunteers to be a lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse is on an island miles off shore.

Running away from life, he finds life in a woman who lives in the Western Australian town that is the jumping off point to the island. Isabel (Alicia Vikander) falls in love with him and he with her. Alone on the island, he realizes he wants to say yes to her proposal of marriage.

Tom and Isabel are happy on the island in the early days of their marriage. Their life together on the island seems perfect.

On the island, Isabel loses both of her babies during pregnancy. Then a row boat comes from the sea. On it are a dead man and a baby. Isabel wants to keep the baby; Tom wants to do the right thing and report what they have found to the authorities. This is where Tom’s dilemma begins.

At the end of the movie, I still can’t answer the question of whether I would have made the choice Tom makes. Just like I don’t know which child I would have chosen if I were Sophie in William Styron’s “Sophie’s Choice.” Or whether I would have made the choice Scobie makes in Graham Greene’s “The Heart of the Matter.” Would I have chosen the choice Danny’s father made in Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen”?  I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Perhaps this is the moral of “The Light Between Oceans.” There is no right answer and there is wrong answer. There is only a human answer.

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Near 500 words: Ancestors

The woman in the door of the wooden hut stood before Rufus. Her dark hair and her brown eyes were full of life though her life was hard.

Her focus reminded Rufus of the last time he saw his father. It was late at night and the old man sat at his desk, studying a photograph of his father who had been gone some thirty years. There was a light in the old man’s eyes. It wasn’t the light from the table lamp. It was another kind of light. It was the light of memory.

Or was it more? Was it the light of someone who has experienced some piece of the divine in his life? Rufus’ father never spoke of his father.

“Can I have some water?” Rufus asked the woman in the doorway.

The woman smiled. Instead of water, she invited him inside her one-room house. A house that was spotlessly clean. In the corner was an altar to some god or other. He didn’t ask since he knew it would be as rude as asking his father about his grandfather. She brought him a cup of tea and offered him a seat on one of the three wooden chairs.

Rufus took out his camera and pointed to it. “Can I take your photograph?”

The woman blushed, then shook her head yes.

Rufus pointed and snapped several pictures. Then he finished his tea. He thanked her for her hospitality.

It was a brief encounter but not as brief as the night he saw his father studying the photograph of his father.

As he walked up the path away from the woman’s house, he missed his father and his grandfather. Perhaps in another life. Perhaps.

Near 500 words: The King of Wands

Katherine looked into her daughter’s dark eyes. She loved the face with its smile and the blonde hair under the white bonnet. “The King of Wands is coming home,” she said.

Darla went into a little dance, her face all lit up like a Christmas tree trimmed in lights. She was a whirling dervish dancing before her mother, excitement pouring from her ten-year-old body, singing, “The King of Wands is coming home.” So much joy for a sailor who never stayed home. Then Darla stopped her dancing. “Will he stay this time?”

“Probably not,” Katherine answered.

Darla’s shoulders dropped. “Just like the King of Wands.”

Katherine was not happy. But she did not share her unhappiness with Darla. She was tired of the man who checked in for a couple of weeks, then was off for months. For fifteen years, Katherine endured. Each time he came home she hoped this was the last time he went away.

She tired of the life she lived, so she met another man a few days earlier. Horace was an older man, a widower of ten years. They were shopping for vegetables. Her hand went for the potatoes. His hand went for the potatoes. It was an absent-minded, accidental thing for the both of them.

“Sorry.” Horace drew back his hand.

Katherine managed to get out, “’S’okay.”

Neither knew what to say. So they said nothing for the next few minutes. They just stared into each other’s eyes.

Then Horace broke the silence. “You come here often?”

“Most everyday,” the words stumbled out of Katherine. “I like our vegetables fresh. And you?”

“Only occasionally. It’s on my way from the doctor’s.”

“Are you okay?” Concern entered Katherine’s voice, concern for the tall, white-haired man standing in front of her.

“It’s just my semi-annual physical.”

Relieved, Katherine let out a sigh.

“Would you like to get a glass of wine?” Horace let out. “I hear they have very good wines at the café next door.”

Katherine’s face blushed. No man had asked her out for years. Or perhaps they had tried. She ignored them because of her devotion to the King of Wands. Then she smiled. “Why not.”

At the café, the two laid their lives out on the table. At the end of the conversation, Horace asked, “Would you like to go to see a film? One afternoon, that is?”

Katherine’s pulse was racing. Her thoughts were “When?” But she did not let on to this. She simply said, “Maybe. What did you have in mind?”

“There’s a movie theater that shows classics and foreign films nearby.”

“I know the place.” She didn’t but she would find it.

“Next week they are showing ‘Jules and Jim’. It’s Truffaut.”

“I love Truffaut.”

“Then next Wednesday we can meet here at noon, have lunch, then see the film.”

“You’re not a sailor, are you?” she asked.

“I’m afraid not. I get seasick.”

As they readied to part, she let the older man kiss her on the cheek. Then she returned to the grocer for her vegetables. Darla would be home from school soon.

And so would the King of Wands. For the last time.

haiku for the day: the adventure

This one came to me as I watched the movie, “Barefoot in the Park”. It’s a romantic comedy about a newly-wed couple, played by Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. After their wedding at the courthouse, they spend six days in a five-star hotel. Then Redford goes off to work while Jane goes to the new apartment that neither has seen. It’s amazing what climbing six stories of stairs can do to a relationship.

relationships they
are magical one moment
the next who’s to know

The Camera

“Just aim and shoot,” Paulie said to his girlfriend. “That’s all there is to it.”

“Yeah, says you,” she said. She was not good at all with mechanical things. A camera was a mechanical thing. An instrument. She had a long history of breaking things. In high school, she broke her biology teacher’s favorite microscope. It was an accident but she had a hard time not getting expelled. She never got back in her teacher’s good graces, barely passing with a D. Now her boyfriend was telling her that operating a camera was easy peasy. No way. She didn’t dare touch it. It would break just to spite her.

“C’mon, Emily,” he said, handing her the camera.

It was such a nice camera. It must have cost a bunch. She, for sure, did not want to break it. She pushed his hand away and shook her head. “You have no idea how easy it will be for me to break it.”

“You’re not going to break it,” he insisted. Was he being foolish or what? Of course, she would break it if she took it.

For all the money in the world, she was not going to touch the camera. Not for all the money in the world. “No,” she said. Tears were forming in her eyes. She was about to cry. As the old saying goes, she was between a rock and a hard place, and she was not getting out anytime soon.

He opened her hand and set the camera in it.

It wasn’t as heavy as it looked. Her hand shook. “Stop, hand,” she commanded it.

The camera seemed to like her hand. How ‘bout that. It was unbelievable.

Then the camera spoke to her, “You drop me and you’re a dead woman.” If you’ve never been threatened by a camera, it’s a scary thing.