Sunday 28 November 2010

Eyes Wide Open and Letters to a Young Poet

“Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke

By turns inspiring and challenging, this collection of letters from the lyrical poet Rilke to an aspiring poet offers wise insights on more than just a career as a writer. Solitude, life, love, faith, sorrow, pain, healing and work are all explored with a sincerity that rings through the words, leaving echoes in the soul that offer comfort and encouragement.

Not everyone will enjoy the philosophical meanderings as Rilke gently attempts to guide a young stranger into a deeper, more meaningful experience of life.

I did enjoy them; at times, his words affirmed life experiences I’ve had for myself. I’ve learnt to accept my strong desire for solitude: Rilke speaks of solitude as an essential part of the human condition. He says, “The necessary thing is after all but this: solitude, great inner solitude.”

At other times, Rilke’s words illuminated interesting perceptions, as when he touched on feminism in Letter Seven. Written in 1904, modern feminism was in its birth throes. Rilke concludes his observations with the belief that feminism will reshape the love-experience “into a relation that is meant to be of one human being to another, no longer man to woman…the love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.”

His poetic genius lies in that, with his tender and compassionate answer to the fears and lonely doubts that haunt so many, he pre-empted many of the “new age” authors of today by nearly a hundred years. His struggle and his sincerity are obvious; this adds piquancy to what was then a different way of looking at life. Even today, one can find in this book much to linger over. Click HERE to buy.

Einaym Pkutot (EYES WIDE OPEN) (DVD Review)

In a far more subtle and heartrending way than “Brokeback Mountain” (because the stakes were higher), this DVD follows the love story of two men from a Jewish orthodox community in Jerusalem.

When student Ezri (the delicious Ran Danker) runs away from his yeshiva (religious college), happily married father-of-four and rabbi, Aaron, gives him a job and a home. The power in this movie lies in Aaron seeing his struggle to overcome his forbidden desire for Ezri as a spiritual challenge to bring him closer to his God.

The superb acting from all cast members and the sensitive direction by Haim Tabakman raised thought-provoking questions around sexuality and religion, hypocrisy and fanaticism. Without relying on the melancholic self-indulgence of “Brokeback Mountain”, “Eye Wide Open” delicately highlights the struggle of forbidden love without sitting in judgement. The intensity of their growing feelings, juxtaposed with their deep faith and their place in a society strictly controlled by highly defined ideas of good and evil, ratchets up the tension.

However, one area where I felt the film didn’t quite live up to its own beauty was in the rather abrupt change in Reb Aaron’s feelings at the end. This didn’t detract from the poignancy of the ending, and makes one realise that death is not only physical, but also spiritual. Click HERE to buy.

If you enjoy "Eyes Wide Open", another BRILLIANT Israeli movie is THE BUBBLE, but only watch it if you're comfortable with fairly explicit same-sex love scenes (which, in both movies, are done with taste and exquisite sensitivity). "The Bubble" is about Ashraf, a Palestinian illegal immigrant to Tel Aviv, and Noam, a Jewish  anti-war protestor, falling in love. I cried my eyes out. The movie explores the young friends and lovers struggle to bring peace to a region, which has been at war for thousands of years, and was told with humour, insight and objectivity.

Where "Eyes Wide Open" is spiritually complex, "The Bubble" is politically complex. Both are outstanding.


Helen Ginger said...

All three of these are new to me. And all three clearly are thought-provoking and could undoubtedly bring about discussion. Thanks for the introduction.

Anita said...

You have a great way of respecting the artist while informing the audience about possible "issues."

Marilyn Brant said...

Judy, thank you so much for bringing these 2 films to our attention (both sound intriguing) and for reminding me of how much I loved reading passages from Rilke ;). Wishing you a wonderful week!

Robyn Campbell said...

Thanks for the respect you have for both your reader and the artists in films you recommend. I love that about you. EYES WIDE OPEN sounds really good.

I'll have to read Rilke's words. I too have that strong desire for solitude. Except where Christopher is concerned. He's my most wonderful friend and confidante.:) Love knowing you are praying for him. I'll be glad to get Wednesday over. And to know he's safe and sound. :)

Paul Greci said...

I read Letters to a Young Poet years ago but remember very little of the specifics. Your post makes me want to re-read it.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HELEN: I’d previously heard of Rilke’s book, but just never read it. The two DVD’s were chance buys – picked up from those ubiquitous recommendations that Amazon pops up when you sign in. Was very glad I bought them.

ANITA: I hesitated about mentioning the possible issues because, well, then it appears to highlight them as issues! But sometimes one needs to mention them.

MARILYN: And a wonderful week to you too! Will pop in and visit you soon! :)

ROBYN: Rilke is a marvellous read! Hope today went well – thought of you & Christopher first thing! :)

PAUL: It’s well worth the re-read (if you can tear yourself away from all that natural beauty around you!)

septembermom said...

I want to read Rilke again. It has been way too long. Those films look intriguing too Judy. Thanks for the thoughtful review.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

KELLY: Letters to a Young Poet is the type of book that gets richer and more rewarding with each subsequent read. :)