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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Movie Night: all about death

Looking for a good film while Asia’s strawberry cake baked, we found “Elegy” — a film adapted from Philip Roth’s novel “The Dying Animal”. It stars Ben Kingsly and Penelope Cruz.

An aging professor, who has never really committed himself to a woman, starts up with one of his grad students (after grades are posted, of course; he doesn’t want to be accused of sexual harrassment). There’s a sort of pygmalian thing going on, at first, but their 30+ yr age difference is leveled by Consuella’s intelligence. Of course, the passion is heated, and the connection is emotional. Too emotional, for Prof Kapesh. He’s worried about the age difference, worried about his growing love for this young woman, and worried that she’ll tire of him just as soon as she wakes up from passion’s dream-state.

And then people start dying left and right, or are threatened with death (age, sickness, etc). Depressing? Sure. But then, we all WILL die of something. And that’s the point of “Elegy” — what we leave behind, because we don’t take anything with us. The elegy of who we raised as children, and their thoughts of their parents; elegy of our lovers; elegy of our work; elegy of the friends we’ve had, and lost.

Roth’s title — “The Dying Animal” — not just one or two, or three or four, of the book’s characters, but all of us. How we want to leave the world is as much left to the people we’ve known, as to what we’ve accomplished/failed/tried.

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