November 10, 2013

All Is Lost

November 10, 2013 Photo of the day: "All Is Lost"

Every time we visit 
it feels like an event.

The decor, the pipe organ, the real popcorn machine...
a movie at the Oriental is like stepping back in time. 

My mom and dad had their first date
at the Oriental in 1958; they saw South Pacific

Not much about the historic cinema
has changed since it was built in 1927.

Today, Eric and I saw All Is Lost.
I was apprehensive that the film 
would scare the passion for sailing out of me.

Robert Redford is brilliant as "Our Man" solo navigating a 39 foot sailboat in the Indian Ocean. When his boat collides with a shipping container, he must endure equipment failure, violent storms, sharks, injuries, and his own tortured thoughts as he fights to survive. There is little dialogue in the film, leaving the viewer to share in a sense of loneliness and raw emotion as only the sound of the wind, rain, and roaring seas echo through the theatre. Only in the opening scene do we really hear his voice as he composes a final letter of apology and farewell. Otherwise, he is virtually silent, a silence more eloquent that any words. Redford's character embodies that vanishing, Hemingway-inspired protagonist who exhibits courage and calm resolve when faced with overwhelming adversity; the kind of hero that always reminds me of my dad. The filming is at once breathtakingly beautiful (and no, I am not referring to Mr. Redford, although he is still amazingly handsome at 77) and heart-stoppingly terrifying. Despite what the the title and opening monologue suggest, the film is anything but predictable. I was mistaken in my predictions for Our Man's fate...twice!

Ironically, just as I was finishing this post, it dawned on me that today is November 10th. Thirty-eight years ago, another ship wreck occurred hours after leaving port in Wisconsin -- the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. When this Great Lakes ore carrier sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, the tragedy hit very close to home for my family. My mom worked at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company whose president was the lake boat's namesake. She remembers attending the ship's christening in 1958. My Uncle Jack, who sailed on the Great Lakes for forty years, made several crossing on the Edmund Fitzgerald. On the evening of November 10, 1975 when the ship went missing in 25-foot seas and 58 mile per hour winds, my uncle was on the Arthur Anderson, just a few miles ahead of the Fitzgerald. Uncle Jack and the crew of the Arthur Anderson turned around to search for the missing ship, but no survivors were found. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald haunted my dad and his brother for years and inspired an eerily familiar song by Gordon Lightfoot. If I had remembered the date earlier, I might not have chosen to see All Is Lost today.