Made in 1982, the first thing that hits me is how young Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol were when this was made. Baby faces! The second thing that you realize is that Meryl as Sophie is going to be a tragic figure. The first scene that she is in is a huge argument and portrays a loud and passionate relationship with Kevin Kline’s Nathan. And just like Peter MacNicol’s Stingo, it’s hard not to forgive the turbulent scene with Sophie and Nathan and follow him as their magnetic personalities pull him along.
Now, having seen this movie, I’m guessing, sometime in the ’90s only the heart breaking ending stayed with me. (I mean, come on, it’s a robot test! If you weren’t deeply moved by her confession at the end of the movie then you are clearly a robot.) Because of the 20 year or so gap, it was very like watching it for the first time, but with a knot in my stomach knowing the source of Sophie’s great pain.
I was as enamored with Nathan as Sophie and Stingo are, completely forgiving all of his passionate and crazed outbursts because of his powerful and intoxicating ability to make things up to them. I was completely in love with the fragile Sophie, so strong and yet so weak when she would stand up to Nathan to defend against his crazed claims.
As for Chooch, he chuckled when he heard the line from the latest xkcd, “Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.” I didn’t catch it at all, and I’d read it half an hour before sitting down to the movie. He enjoyed the movie as well, but we haven’t had much time to discuss it yet.
As is standard for me whenever I watch a Meryl Streep movie, I completely forget that she is acting. It’s been said millions of times, but the woman can really take you along as she completely immerses herself in her role and the world she’s in. And seeing what she endured during the flashbacks, it’s so easy to see why she would stay with Nathan in spite of his verbal abuse and mental instability. Come on, after surviving Auschwitz being swept around in a Southern belle style hoop gown with that grand way that he has, it must have felt like Heaven to her broken soul. She was drawn to him like a moth to the flame, knowing he was dangerous but needing his warmth.
Obviously, this movie really affected me. I’m not sure that you have to be a parent to “get” how horrific a thing it is to be forced to choose which of your two children will live. Then add to that the knowledge that if you do not choose, both will die. In the end, I don’t think it’s any great leap to say that she had a death wish, and did not believe she deserved the life of quiet peace that Stingo offered. The guilt, pain and shame that she carried would not allow her such things. I think this is a Movie You Must See, so if you haven’t you should really consider doing so. Even though it’s somewhat spoiled for you, I think you’ll still find it worth your time.
Chooch and I have re-ranked the movies we have seen so far, and we are taking yet another page from Christiana and Mike’s Watching 100 Movies in that we are adding movies that we think belong on the list. The difference is that Chooch felt there were twenty movies that should be on the list. Insanity! I had only selected one, and have since talked him down to five. I’m now culling through my DVD collection and Netflix queue to find four more. Once that’s done I’ll do a post. I have a general plan of posting our rankings every tenth movie, but we’ll see if I stick to it.
Next up is Swing Time and the only thing I know about it is that it was released in 1936 and stars Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ll have seen one of their films all the way through, so I’m very excited to see if it holds up to all the acclaim.
One reply on “Sophie's Choice (#91)”
I had never seen any part of Sophie’s Choice and really enjoyed it. It is a great movie that really tugs at the heart strings.
At times I felt that the flashbacks were a little bit too jarring. They didn’t flow well with the main story, but that’s a minor thing. The characters were developed well and a delight to watch.
Oh and my initial list of movies to add to the AFI 100 was 25 strong. I went through my Netflix ratings history and pulled out movies that I had rated 5 stars, and decided among those which ones I liked so much that I thought they should replace existing movies on the list.
As Viv says, I have trimmed it down to five that I feel have left an indelible mark and perhaps changed the way movies coming after them were made.