Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Sophie’s Choice (1982) ****

R, 150 min.
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Writers: Alan J. Pakula, William Styron (novel)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol

I saw Alan J. Pakula’s “Sophie’s Choice” as a child. It may have been my first real experience with The Holocaust. I don’t think I even saw the entire movie. Certainly if I did, the whole love triangle stuff between Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol flew far above my innocent mind. But, the choice Sophie had to make in the concentration camp. Well, that stuck with me. I was devastated that such a thing could be asked of a person.

Now of course, there was more to the movie than my immature mind could wrap itself around. Sophie’s strange relationship with Nathan was beyond me. It was something I couldn’t even conceive of with its volatility and care. I think I could relate to Stingo’s infatuation with her. I realize now as a writer that there is a great need to take care of something, which goes along with this particular artistic discipline.

Of course, it’s Sophie who really odes the caring here, because that choice she makes in the camp isn’t the only choice she makes in the film. She remains the mother she never got to be because of the Holocaust. She seems the vulnerable one, but the two men treat her very much like sons do their mothers. They care for her and they feel punished and rejected by her when their feelings are tender. Sophie eventually makes a similar choice between the men that she once made between her own children. The choice she makes is inevitable and necessary for her because of that first choice she was forced to make. I can’t imagine.

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