Life and Death Movies
About this course:
Movies that cover life spans come the closest to novels in illuminating character, place and time. They also command the deepest audience involvement, making the losses more heart-rending and the stories harder to shake off. In A River Runs Through It, adapted by Robert Redford from a celebrated novel by Norman Maclean, we join a devout Montana family in the early 20th century from the two sons’ carefree boyhood to one brother’s tragic early death. In The Great Santini (one of Robert Duval’s most memorable performances), we bear witness to the effects of a tyrannical father on a son who both fears and loves him. In Five Easy Pieces, which features Jack Nicolson in the most vulnerable acting performance of his career, we travel home to an island off the coast of Washington saturated in classical music and massive dysfunction. The Last Picture Show memorably illuminates the loves and sorrows of a dying Texas town. Pollock, starring Ed Harris in the role that should have won him a Best Actor Oscar, immerses us in the ground-breaking mid-20th century career of painter Jackson Pollock, which not only broke all the rules but also the artist who defied them. And finally, The Doctor, with William Hurt in the title role, provides a vital road map to compassion in the not-always-empathic medical profession.