Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why The Third Man?

Kris said, "Let's watch a movie tonight." We fiddled around until nearly 9:30 pm. I wanted to see Wisconsin win. (They didn't). Or Notre Dame (They didn't).

Finally watched Ebert at the Movies. The show begins and ends with the Third Man theme, that mystical musical zither sound that entranced my mother. It's one of the gifts she passed on to me, loving both the music from this movie and the movie itself.

I had recorded The Third Man the last time it played on Turner and hadn't watched it. So we watched it.

It really is a brilliant film. You can see all the technique Wells developed for Citizen Kane. You can feel the tension build. You're amazed that Harry Lime is the central character of the film, though he appears in less than ten minutes of the whole.

What draws me back to the film is the setting. Post-war Vienna, barely recovering from the bombs and destruction, is as important a character as Lime. Wells managed to take that devastation and make it not just interesting, but compelling.

Why do ruins draw our interest? Why does devastation draw our attention. Perhaps it is because we see these people struggling and refusing to give in to but not quite believing that there is a future. There is a combination of pathos and an intellectual argument - what is allowed for people who must compromise to survive? Are moral values only for those who are comfortable and well fed?

Or is our interest in ruins a hold over from the romantics?

I'm not sure, but after another Saturday of overdoing, I'm feeling like a bit of a ruin myself. Maybe that's why the film appealed to me. I could identify with post-war Vienna. Perhaps that means I see myself finally looking like the Vienna Rick Steves loves to visit.

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