“Face the truth. No one is important. ‘Love’ is a word with many sides, not all of them up.”
All great works of art tell the truth. If they don’t, they can’t be great works of art, or even ordinary works of art, or even remotely interesting. And it’s no good saying they can because they can’t.
Shakespeare, of course, was incapable of telling an artistic lie. With him, you’re all the time thinking, ‘Yes, that’s true. It might not be pleasant, but children do turn on their parents. Husbands trust their wives, but will crumble into insanity if a lie is expressed in just the right way to wriggle into their particular psyche. People behave badly, even when they know what they’re doing is wrong and that the consequences will, without any doubt, come back to stab them in the bum. In some cases, literally.
The small things with Bill, (especially the small things,) never go unnoticed by that cool, accepting eye.
In Othello, when the big man comes in to deal with the brawl that Iago has stirred up, a bell is clanging away in the background. Othello suddenly breaks off to shout, ‘Silence that dreadful bell!’ We recognise that sudden awareness of a cause of severe irritation. Just the other night, in Eastenders, Alfie broke off his insistent questioning of a market trader to turn on a group of children singing a carol to tell them to shut up. It was the same thing.
I’ve always been disappointed that the other top writer in all of human history, Leo Tolstoy, couldn’t stand Shakespeare. He even thought King Lear was tosh. Perhaps because his own later life mirrored that of the senile king.
I’m convinced that you can’t be fully human if you haven’t read The Death Of Ivan Ilyich.
Face the truth. No one is important. ‘Love’ is a word with many sides, not all of them up. Old people are in the way. Ill people are terribly inconvenient. You can try to sentimentalise the truth, but then you won’t be dealing with the truth, only some ungainly load of tat which will really damage your chances of preparing properly for what is only days away.
Go and see Amour as quickly as you can. Directed by Michael Haneke and starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and the superb Ammanuelle Riva, it is as genuine a work of art as you’re ever likely to see.