Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Wit" - Emma Thompson in a Bold, Realistic Movie about Cancer

Some people prefer not to know about the unpleasant aspects of life. Life is hard enough, they say. People don't need their noses rubbed in it. And I sympathize with that sentiment.

I'm not one of these people.

I want to know about life. The beauty, the joys, the terrors and the pains of life. All of it. I feel that confronting reality helps me understand it and deal with it. It's a personal preference that carries over into my taste for art and entertainment, including fiction and movies.

So if you aren't with me on this, you need not read further in this post, because I'm about to talk about an extraordinary movie.

The movie is "Wit," starring Emma Thompson and Christopher Lloyd, and directed by the legendary Mike Nichols. It was an HBO special and never showed in theaters. And for good reason. It's just too honest, too real and too painful for most people to watch. The average viewer would be outraged that they were exposed to that much truth. And no happy ending. Just a real one that reveals surprising forms of love.

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Margaret Edson, it's the story of English professor Vivian Bearing, an expert in the poetry of John Donne. The complication is that she's diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, and her only hope for survival is a devastating course of experimental chemotherapy. The movie is a graphic depiction of her grueling experience during the eight months of her therapy.

If you watch this movie all the way through, you are rewarded with a witty, courageous although intellectual perspective on life, death, isolation, and love in a setting of modern medicine. You'll learn what it's like to live through a fight for your life with one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

Do you need to know about this? Some would say, no, that's not essential knowledge. I say yes, cancer is a common part of life, and one should know what it means. And what life and death mean. And isolation and human intimacy.

It may be painful to watch, but it's one of the most powerful movies I've ever seen, and its themes are of utmost importance. Everything about it is superbly done.

Do I recommend it? Wholeheartedly so. I hope you put it at the top of your Netflix queue and watch it as soon as possible. But only if you are, like me, one of those people who want to know the truth.

Watch this powerful video clip about breast cancer...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, PhD, Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Diane said...

Wit took my breath away. I have been at the bedside while this happened in reality. That was 40 years ago and nothing has changed. In the UK my mother was in a public ward. They tried everything even though they told us after the operation that there was nothing to be done. In the end, to stop the horror, we got her transferred to a Private Hospital where she was allowed to slip away within 48 hours.

Knowledge is strength. I would now know that the hope of a cure at S4 is minimal and I would go out with the biggest bang possible.

The most terrible part of the whole thing is that my mother was never ever told she was dying. She could not tell them to stop as she was told it would make her better. 18 months of hell and I never ever got over it as she would ask me and I would have to lie to her on a daily basis...

Truth is strength. Honesty is strength. A motherless child of 64.