If one believes, as some might, that the coupling of two human beings happens only for practical purposes – for the sake of rearing children or to advance a business career – then all romance
is lost. And is not romance the thing that makes life most worth living? Or to paraphrase Joseph Conrad, “It is our dreams that keep us afloat.”
If everything must be
useful, we become like dry, brittle twigs. The real juice of life comes from falling in love; from becoming passionate about art be it painting, music, theatre or dance; the beauty of nature like a mighty oak
tree in the middle of a meadow, a glorious sunrise or a poignant sunset – things that are ultimately useless but truly quite divine.
And for most of us growing up in the 20th century and now the 21st century, it was at the movies that we first saw most vividly our dreams, hopes and aspirations reflected back to us. Those lager than life images on the silver screen (Clark Gable, Gretta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and others)– especially in the 1930s when America was deep in the Great Depression – when the newly invented medium of talking movies offered solace, escape and inspiration to keep going despite the gritty, grim, horrible realities out on the streets in major cities evidenced by the bread lines and men jumping out of buildings during America’s darkest days when many believed that the capitalistic dream of democracy had come to a futile end.
For me personally, the dream came alive upon seeing the inimitable, charismatic,
Jimmy Cagney dancing madly up and down proscenium walls on our little black and white TV as impresario and total theatre man, George M. Cohan in the 1942 musical biography, Yankee Doodle Dandy
reveled in it, sang with it and became obsessed with this movie (watching it every chance I could) and that experience as a nine or ten year old 1950s boy forever became melded together with a repressed desire to dance, to dream and to celebrate an American Spirit that back then seemed indomitable.
Today, we are facing immense challenges in every sphere even as technology is opening up new vistas that even science fiction writers did not imagine. Time and space more than ever seem like fluid
entities that can expand and contract beyond comprehension. And yet, we still turn to movies and television as a way of discovering who we are, where we are going and why we are the way we are. Only now,
you can carry those images wherever you go and see them whenever you want in the palm of your hand.