Saturday, November 29, 2008
51 Birch Street
So, this mindblowing documentary is about a fifty-year marriage, and if you haven’t seen it, queue it up now, see it, and then come back and read this, cause I’m gonna spoil this too.
It’s a subject I have become really fascinated by ever since I got married – go figure – although you might think I’d have thought about it more deeply before, given that my folks were divorced, and I waited so long to get married. I mean, that wasn’t by accident. I knew I wanted to try to get it right if I was going to do it. But it wasn’t like I was mired in contemplation about my parents’ marriage, or either of their subsequent ones to any great extent. Probably just to the usual extent. Anyway. This guy starts out just by trying to document his parents and his family and then his mom dies, while he’s still making the film, and the father remarries very quickly (there should be an investigative documentary on this subject alone, I say) and slowly, more gets revealed about their history, and as he comes to think his father may have cheated with his new wife many years before, he discovers his mom’s extensive diaries, and it turns out she had been unfaithful, but that really, that was just one small thing, that she had profound feelings of unhappiness in her marriage, in her life, and all this stuff, and but, then in the end, it turns out that the father and his new wife are actually really in love, for the first time, and somehow all this ends up bringing the father and the son closer together, in letting all these secrets out.
For me, it just brings up, again, the central questions of – why do we do this marriage thing – when the odds are as low as they say they are – and how do we do this marriage thing, and what makes a marriage a good marriage or not a good marriage – are these questions all entirely individual? Or are there any universal truths? Are there cultural truths about it? You’d think I might write some fiction about this – and maybe I will – but I’m still figuring out what the questions are. Would love to hear what all y’all think about it, married, divorced, remarried, divorced parents, whatever. Maybe you can help me figure it out.