Sunday, September 6, 2009

Scenes I love
!!Spoiler Warning!!

I'm not a huge one for tears when it comes to movies. Not because I think it's a sign of low testosterone levels or anything like that- I'm just the kind of person who can be deeply moved without being moved to tears. Rarity, however, is not impossibility. And for all the scenes that never got to me, or maybe stirred me the first time but never since- there is that handful of scenes that can get me every time. The first that comes to mind is a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Last Samurai. Yea yea, I know, it's fashionable to hate Tom Cruise these days. But I am of the belief that celebrities, like everyone else, all have elements to their personalities that I wouldn't like, and that this is irrelevant to the movie going experience anyway since I'm not there to be the casts friend, I'm there to enjoy their work.

But I digress, The Last Samurai. It's one of the better search for redemption stories told in cinema over the last few years, and to me one of the truest moments of that story comes with this moment- where Algren and the woman tasked with his care, Taka, truly address each other for the first time. He tries to apologize, to the best of his ability, for killing Taka's husband- for widowing her and orphaning her children. But lets not forget, these are only the latest on a long list of orphans and widows he's made, the memories of which being what drove him down to the bottom of countless bottles.

But for all the load he's carrying (and finally learning to let go of), and all he must want to confess, all he can manage is simply: "I'm sorry". Maybe it's because he's unsure how to say more in her tongue, which he is still learning. Maybe it's because he feels anything else he might say would be worthless. Either way the statement is so loaded- but it's all he can say. So he says it.

As stirring as that is, it's not his side of the story that moves me so every time I watch, it's hers. For as Algren is finding himself more and more at peace finally, Taka's confliction is growing, and painfully silent- in keeping with the woman's place in that society, and the proud way of her people. She has been ordered to care for the man responsible for her husbands death, but it goes deeper. I think it was easy enough to despise Algren when he was a smelly drunk, waling for Saki to ease the pain of his with drawl, and cover all that he wants to forget. Or to hate an oafish outsider, ignorant to her and her peoples ways. But in the time he's been among them he's not only proven himself unworthy of her hate, she is quickly finding him respectable, maybe even love able in the farthest parts of her heart- which must be the most painful part of it all: the betrayal of her husbands memory.

And now this- a broken man asking forgiveness for the last thing she had to hold against him. A woman who's shown herself to be so strong, stoic almost, finds her eyes red with tears...

I've still yet to watch this scene without at least choking up, let alone the tears that came down my cheeks when I saw it for the first time in the theater. It is such a simple exchange, but beneath it so much is flowing within both characters. Well written, and beautifully acted, this is one of the scenes I love.

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