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Pioneer spirit

Post 1

spimcoot

I nearly ruptured something (the person in front, probably) laughing like I haven't laughed in years at the shots of the Pioneer museum Schmidt visits towards the end of the film. I think it was the fact that it's probably a real museum... the first scene where the visitors take an escalator into the place, when the real pioneers trawled right across the country, many on foot, was a glorious incongruity.

Apart from that I was mainly disconcerted by the increasing resemblance Mr Nicholson bears to my dad... and the terrible ending.


Pioneer spirit

Post 2

Awix

I thought only this morning how much a photo of the disgraced TV presenter Michael Barrymore looked like the poster for this movie. Hm.

Yes, that ending! I didn't think it was terrible, I thought it was brave and unusual. It's courageous these days for a film to end on such a non-ironically positive & sentimental note.

But then I'm a little biased cos we sponsor a child ourselves...


Pioneer spirit

Post 3

spimcoot

I dare say that sentimentality like that holds sway in real life (it does with me) but it just sat a little uneasily with the tone of the rest of the film. I was quite hoping his letters would be returned to him. It's hard to see the ending as brave and unusual when it could be seen equally as manipulative and corny, just like the charity ads that inure one to suffering, but I'm trying, I really am. I've just the horrible feeling that the film sets up his life as worthless, despite a long and relatively happy marriage and the raising of a daughter, and then says it was worthwhile after all because he sponsored a child. Either they're both worthwhile achievements or they're both meaningless. Or I'm a miserable old curmudgeon.


Pioneer spirit

Post 4

Awix

I'm not sure the film does say his life is worthless. I'm sure that Schmidt *thinks* his life is worthless, but the letter at the end shows he's wrong about that... and maybe wrong about the rest of it as well. The ending is *so* jarringly sentimental that it's hard tosee it as an attempt to manipulate the audience, it's not really subtle enough.


Pioneer spirit

Post 5

spimcoot

I quite convinced myself with my reading of the film as 'all is meaningless' or 'all is worthwhile' which amount to the same thing. But a lack of subtlety is no bar to manipulation and, though I admit I know nothing of its background, upbeat or positive endings have been forced on films before. It smacked of this to me even if that's not the case.

On the other hand, such a letter at such a time in a crisis probably would have a huge emotional impact. Just that watching it happen whilst in deadpan mood was rather like watching drunk people while sober.

Maybe I'm just being petulant because the film knocked the cynical complacency in which it had me sitting quite happily.


Pioneer spirit

Post 6

Awix

MMm. No great fan of cynical complacency myself, but...

I think the fact that, as you say, 'all is meaningless' and 'all is worthwhile' is an important one as it implies that self-worth is really a matter of perspective... so that (oh dear) life is what you want it to be. I haven't read the book of AS or know much about the making of the film (beyond Payne's rigorous direction of Nicholson!) so I have no idea where the ending came from. But it didn't seem jarring to me.


Pioneer spirit

Post 7

Awix

D'oh!

Meant to say: '...'all is meaningless' and 'all is worthwhile' are functionally equivalent is an important one...' there. Bother.


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