POSCRIPT NUMBER ONE
by Barbara Bucknall
I have decided to include a few musings of my own by way of a postscript to my reviews of shows at NAC. My tenant Andrew, who has been posting my Blog for me recently, suggested I do this. He is quite a movie fan and has been getting DVDs from the library for the two of us to watch. It is so long since I have been to the movies that they are quite new to me. The latest one we watched was “Fame” ( the original 1980 movie starring Irene Cara amongst others ) and Andrew asked me to review it.
I took a lively interest in it because one of my Southern nieces attended Julliard School of Music and when last heard from was playing in the Houston Symphony Orchestra. She had plenty of encouragement from her father, the musically gifted pediatrician Bill Bucknall, who made her her first viola. In a similar way, my librarian nephew, Tim Bucknall, is getting his daughter Carolyn trained for an artistic career. He has all the more reason to do this as she is dyslexic and has no skill in handling words. But his primary motive is to follow the trail blazed by his father, Malcolm, who opposed an adamant resistance to our father’s attempts to divert him from art and shunt him off into what that man thought was a more lucrative career. Although his father called him a fool, Malcolm had done very well for himself and even has fans in Australia. So I was interested to see what all these lively young people in New York were doing with their talents.
The first thing that struck me about this movie was the title “Fame.” I immediately thought of what the poet John Milton had to say on this subject.
“Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
( That last infirmity of noble mind )
To scorn delights and live laborious days.”
All these young actors, dancers and musicians may not have scorned delights because they certainly enjoyed what they were doing to the extent of its containing the whole meaning of life for them, but they did lead most laborious days and scorned any attempt to divert them from it. Milton speaks of the desire for fame, from a Christian point of view, as “an infirmity,” a weakness, but as an English critic has remarked, although the poet Gray talked of a “mute inglorious Milton” lying in a country churchyard Milton himself would never had tolerated a life that was mute and inglorious. Otherwise, why would he have described his poetic talent as “that one talent which is death to hide?” Like all creative geniuses he opted for fame, although his Christian conscience told him to prefer humility.
But part of the truth to reality of this movie is that only some, no matter what their talent, actually end up getting fame. They risk everything to end up waiting tables, perhaps, The movie is fiction, but as Jean Cocteau put it, this fiction is a lie that tells the truth. This is what makes this movie supremely worth watching, unlike the remake.