Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: John Houston’s Last Movie

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Dead” (1987).

Like so many of you, I have a New Year’s Eve tradition. Come Thursday night this year, I plan on the same ritual I have performed the past ten years or so.

No, it’s not going out drinking with all the amateurs. I stay off the streets ’cause there’s danger out there, Will Robinson. If I am taking to the bottle on New Year’s Eve, I do it at home. But mostly I stay off the booze, except for a little of the bubbly.

I don’t sacrifice a chicken or howl at the moon either. Although the howling-at-the-moon has occurred to me. It would give some competition to those blasting firecrackers away all night because they can. They scare the whatchamacallit out of my cats. At least, my cats would appreciate the howling.

I am not into watching three hours of programming crawling up to the countdown to the ball dropping. (I kinda wonder what you do in that crowd when you have to pee, and you have to pee bad. Where do you go?)

All the twerking by artists, mouthing their latest fifteen-minutes-of-fame plastic, bores me. I’m not ever sure who they are, but they’re not for moi. They are not Dylan or Sinatra or Elvis or the Beatles or the Supremes. Those guys didn’t have to twerk their way to greatness. Well, maybe Elvis did.

If I hear Paul McCartney do one more performance of “Yesterday”, I think I’ll scream. You were great once, Sir Paul, but you’re beginning to wear out your welcome. Mostly I’m thinking it’s been a while since Guy Lombardi did the Auld Lang Syne thing, and I kinda miss it. Don’t worry I haven’t gone Lawrence Welk on you. Yet.

My tradition? I sit down and watch John Huston’s last movie, “The Dead”. And before you even think it, it’s not about zombies. Rather it is based on James Joyce’s great story. If the man wrote no other work, “The Dead” would establish him as one of the greats. It takes place in 1904 Dublin. A group of friends gather at the home of the Morkan sisters and their niece to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, that memorial to the Three Magi who came to visit the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Outside there is snow. Inside there is cheer and music and dinner and memories of the past. It is these memories of the dead that call to mind all who have passed my way. Old friends, childhood buddies, and family, Some passed on and some not, some nearby and some in faraway places, some in places known and some in places unknown.

Like the story, the final scene of the movie calls to mind the most bittersweet of memories. All those who left, leaving only their footprints in the snow behind. All those wayfarers who came my way and left their mark on my life in an unforgettable manner. For a moment, tears well up in my eyes and I raise a glass to the wonder of who they were.

Soon it will be time to move on, what with a new year coming. This brief time I give to those who have passed over to a new world. I miss their words. I miss their smiles. I miss their voices. I miss the music that was their lives. So I shed a few tears. Not for them, but for myself. That I could have been a better friend. A better brother. A better son.

For these few moments, I am thankful to James Joyce and to John Huston for their extraordinary works of art.

Where will you be this New Year’s Eve?