First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
The other day we watched The Way We Were, that old classic starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand. My wife is generally not a fan of old movies but her pop-culture historical archive is severely lacking so when she is indebted to me or owes me a favour I take advantage and make her watch all the films the little gay man inside me desires.
Old movies are not too complicated, they’re filled with the unfiltered filter of soft and pixelated lighting and everything has that golden hue.
Perfect for falling asleep to. If you rewatch them over and over again, you can doze off with the peace and contentment of knowing exactly what happens at the end.
The music of films of yore is also great.
One can never go wrong with the styling of a Henry Mancini composition and the soothing but subdued diva timbre of Streisand, in this case, singing the theme song, The Way We Were.
If you don’t know who Mancini is, let me draw your attention to Moon River, from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn. If you haven’t seen this classic I recommend you do.
Failing the recognition of that ditty, let me fill your head with the earworm that is the Pink Panther theme.
But I digress. This is about The Way We Were and the way we were.
My wife and I have a lot in common but we don’t share a love for rewatching films.
She feels life is too short to read a book you have already read or watch a film you have already watched. I feel the opposite is true. Life is too short not to revisit the things that mean something, when you can.
To enjoy the joys you’re guaranteed to enjoy. More than that, I always find some new secret in the same sentence or some new meaning in the same black-and-white or saturated frame of something I have read or seen before.
And in the case of my recent revisit to The Way We Were, it was one quote that stood out: “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.” This is a quote that resonated with me in a way it never had before.
The first few times I watched the movie, I kind of just threw it away. In the film, Redford’s character, Hubbell Gardiner, utters these words achingly to Katie Morosky (Strei-sand), with whom he has a relationship between the 1930s and 1950s.
Their relationship takes unlikely turns over the course of these decades; they move from acquaintances to lovers to friends to best friends. Respect is never lost but common ground is never found.
She is a passionate activist who hates jokes. In today’s terms, she would fall into the category of the most irritating of wokes. He is a textbook Wasp – in today’s terms, the most hated creature on Earth.
He is good-looking (not all Wasps are, but this is Redford, people), privileged and yet a man of substance, which is exactly what Morosky loves about him.
But ultimately their worlds collide when Morosky’s incessant seriousness steals the ease and fun out of life until it complicates their future to the point of separation. And it’s in this scene that I realised, life is actually quite simple, in that if you forget to have fun in the present, your future becomes complicated and rather hopeless.
In the theme song, Streisand sings: “Could it be that it was all so simple then? Or has life rewritten every line? If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me would we? Could we? Memories may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget. So it’s the laughter, we will remember, whenever we remember, the way we were.”
Streisand’s questions are rhetorical, but my answers, I discovered, are simple. To all questions I say yes. And, most importantly, remember the laughter and every so often, let’s go back to the way we were and keep it simple and beautiful. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.
Before auditioning for the role of Wolverine, Hugh Jackman had no clue what a wolverine was. He spent two weeks studying wolves instead.
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