Discussion Center for the MPS Symposium: Healing the Past in the Present: Distant Voices, Still Lives

April 14, 2013 5 Comments

Saturday, April 13 was the date for the 38th annual MPS Symposium, held this year at the magnificent Detroit Film Theatre.

Glen Gabbard, Elliot Wilhelm and Marc Rosen were the discussants who led those who attended through a compelling journey:  psychoanalytic ideas and film combined to enhance and enrich the experience of each.

Although the content of the day will be summarized here at a later date, there were many questions raised by the film that was screened (Distant Voices, Still Lives) and the ideas presented.  Here is a forum to raise and discuss the creative reactions to the program.

What Do You Think?

Movie Musings
5 Comments to “Discussion Center for the MPS Symposium: Healing the Past in the Present: Distant Voices, Still Lives”
  1. Jolyn says:

    Distant Voices, Still Lives is a masterpiece. The opportunity to experience it in 35mm celluloid on the big screen at the Detroit Film Theatre was pure magic!!
    There were many questions raised during the Q and A about various aspects of the film: mother-daughter relationships, father-son, the role of music, the impact of culture.
    Can’t wait to talk about it all!
    My first question: Did it make a difference that the father said “I was wrong” on his deathbed? To his son? Is that part of why Tony was sobbing on his wedding day?
    Jolyn

  2. Marc says:

    I think it may have softened the effects of the past abuse and terror. It offered Tony what he wanted – a tender moment with his dad, a kind word , an acknowlegement of what it was he was denied. Not sure if it’s why Tony was crying but clearly, he longed for his father and was forced to mourn not only his death but to mourn what had been denied him when he live.

  3. Jolyn says:

    Many watching the film missed the father’s “I was wrong” deathbed offering. Could that be because it was Tony’s WISH to hear it? Did it really happen? What was the purpose of the muffled presentation of such crucial words? Is this Davie’s ambivalence about any such admission or longing for it? And what about his mother’s singing “For all you mean to me” before Tony breaks down and the ‘o my Papa” plays in the background? Davies clearly believed that his mother was there for him, but this is nonetheless gutwrenching for Tony. Why? (dont you love this movie?)

  4. Bruce Russell says:

    I just watched the part of Distant Voices…where Tony sobs in the doorway. The voice of the mom singing “For all you mean to me” begins in the church, continues outside the church, and then we see her singing the song in their house (not the pub, see the mantle behind her), and plays over part of the scene of Tony sobbing. There is a brief period with no music before we hear “Oh my papa,” and those are the only words we hear from that song, twice. The rest is a short musical version of it. Tony has collected himself before “Oh my papa” begins, and HE dries his tears while it is playing. Doesn’t it make more sense to think that he is crying over what his MOTHER was singing. he probably was in the living room where she was singing it and stepped outside because he was overcome with emotion? Given how Tony’s father treated him, the lyrics to “Oh my papa” are as unfitting as the lines from “Taking a chance on love” are to the scene they play over in which the mom appears battered and bruised. Tony’s father was not good, understanding, funny, adorable, or wonderful, anymore than his mom was “mending” with a rainbow and a happy ending right around the corner.
    Here are the lyrics to “For all you mean to me,” “Oh my papa,” and the stanza from “Taking a chance…” that play over the scene of the battered mom.

    For all you mean to me

    For all you mean to me, my thanks to you
    For every memory, my thanks to you
    My thanks for everything we love to share
    For all the joy you brought when you were there
    These foolish words of mine can never say
    How slow the hand of time when you’re away
    As years go rolling by my whole life through
    I give my love and all my thanks to you

    Oh My Papa

    Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
    Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
    No one could be, so gentle and so lovable

    Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.
    Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
    And with a smile he’d change my tears to laughter

    Oh, my pa-pa, so funny, so adorable
    Always the clown so funny in his way
    Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
    Deep in my heart I miss him so today.

    Taking a Chance on Love

    Things are mending now [this stanza sung over a picture of mom battered and bruised]
    I see a rainbow blending now
    We’ll have a happy ending now
    Taking a chance on love [ends here with mom shining furniture with dust cloth]

    I think Tony is crying because he feels how much his mother loves him on hearing her sing this song.

  5. Bruce Russell says:

    This is a corrected version of my previous note. The comment at the end about “this song” is supposed to refer to “For all you mean to me,” not to “Taking a chance on love.” I also removed a misplaced question mark and put it in the right place. Ditto for a mistaken use of upper case. And I added a few words.

    I just watched the part of Distant Voices…where Tony sobs in the doorway. The voice of the mom singing “For all you mean to me” begins in the church, continues outside the church, and then we see her singing the song in their house (not the pub, see the mantle behind her), and plays over part of the scene of Tony sobbing. There is a brief period with no music before we hear “Oh my papa,” and those are the only words we hear from that song, twice. The rest is a short musical version of it. Tony has collected himself before “Oh my papa” begins, and he dries his tears while it is playing. Doesn’t it make more sense to think that he is crying over what his MOTHER was singing? He probably was in the living room where she was singing it and stepped outside because he was overcome with emotion. Given how Tony’s father treated him, the lyrics to “Oh my papa” are as unfitting as the lines from “Taking a chance on love” are to the scene they play over in which the mom appears battered and bruised. Tony’s father was not good, understanding, gently, lovable, funny, adorable, or wonderful, anymore than his mom was “mending” with a rainbow and a happy ending right around the corner when she was in a zombie-like trance as she mindlessly dusted the already shiny table.

    Here are the lyrics to “For all you mean to me,” “Oh my papa,” and the stanza from “Taking a chance…” that play over the scene of the battered mom.

    For all you mean to me

    For all you mean to me, my thanks to you
    For every memory, my thanks to you
    My thanks for everything we love to share
    For all the joy you brought when you were there
    These foolish words of mine can never say
    How slow the hand of time when you’re away
    As years go rolling by my whole life through
    I give my love and all my thanks to you

    I think Tony is crying because he feels how much his mother loves him on hearing her sing this song and on realizing that his relationship to her will change because of his marriage to Rose.

    Oh My Papa

    Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
    Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so good
    No one could be, so gentle and so lovable

    Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.
    Gone are the days when he could take me on his knee
    And with a smile he’d change my tears to laughter

    Oh, my pa-pa, so funny, so adorable
    Always the clown so funny in his way
    Oh, my pa-pa, to me he was so wonderful
    Deep in my heart I miss him so today.

    Taking a Chance on Love

    Things are mending now [this stanza sung over a picture of mom battered and bruised]
    I see a rainbow blending now
    We’ll have a happy ending now
    Taking a chance on love [ends here with mom shining furniture with dust cloth]

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