Hi Poetry Lovers,
As promised in the last blog post, I am writing some brief reviews about the three films about poets presented by the Three Rivers Film Festival.
The films were MAYA ANGELOU:AND STILL I RISE; NERUDA; and A QUIET PASSION.
The focus of each film was the life of the poet--Angelou, Neruda, and Emily Dickinson.
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise is a documentary, one that traces the entire life of the poet, whom we learn lived a life that included far more than poetry. A desperately deprived and injured child, Angelou spent much of her early life refusing to speak, mute because she feared giving voice to her thoughts would bring death to others. Her remarkable trajectory through pain to performance, to art, to world citizenship is carefully and lovingly attended to in this film. Her accomplishments were at the highest level in the arts; heaped with awards, she became an outstanding example of the heights to which a human can aspire.
The film is an homage, much deserved, well and accurately done.
One fact of Angelou's life and work was her ability to inspire. A good example of this is her famous poem,
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Finally dear Readers, I will add what is really just a matter of opinion--the Angelou film was, for me, clearly the best of the three.
"Neruda," the film, was abstract to a fault, particularly since the work of the poet was anything but abstract. Neruda was the quintessential man of the people, a known Communist, who wrote of the simplest things. His "Odas Elementales," is the perfect example of this. Odes to things like the onion, the tomato, even his socks!
The Emily Dickinson film, "A Quiet Passion," was extremely melodramatic; Emily was, in life, a recluse; in the film she is portrayed by Cynthia Nixon, as a hysteric, which I question as true.
This is not to say that I did not enjoy these two films---I did. My mother used to say that comparisons are usually odious, which may be so. Each film was well worth seeing. Angelou was merely the best.
Thanks for clicking in! xo Judy