I just finished an excellent biography of Audrey Hepburn, and conicidentally, two of her films were on television yesterday: The Nun's Story and Charade. Charade is a caper film with multiple identities, missing money, witty banter, and a fabulous Givenchy wardroble. It's a lot of fun and how can you not love Cary Grant? But The Nun's Story suprised me.
I knew it was based on the story of a real woman, Marie Louise Habets, and that is is considered one of Audrey Hepburn's best films. What I didn't know was that it was a box office smash, a blockbuster that had people lining up down the street and around the corner to see it. Can you imagine, in this day and age, a movie about a single woman, that has no sex, no explosions, no special effects, and is completely concerned with the internal struggle of concience being a hit?
I can't either.
But people have not changed all that much since 1959. We are still concerned with living a 'good' life, and trying to define what that means. What is due to others? What do we owe ourselves? If we live for others, are we shortchanging ourselves? Is our help actually helpful, or a way of imposing what we think is right?
These are questions for which everyone has to find their own answers, but I think our popular culture is short-changing us. I love action movies as much as anybody else, but I've noticed lately the action sequences getting longer and longer at the expense of the most interesting part of the movie, the story. I remember sitting through a movie just waiting for a character to die, because until he died, the fight scene wouldn't end. If all I wanted to do was see things blow up, I could watch Mythbusters, (which is a great show) and get a decent practical physics lesson thrown in for free.
I have no patience for sermons, but a compelling story about something other than sex, money or killer alien robots would be an interesting change of pace. Or am I just being naive?