Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dancing on a Midsummer Night 1935

I was looking through a gridbook and found this review of the 1935 film of "Midsummer Night's Dream" written by myself as a sentimental 21 year old college student. I find it even more interesting as a man with a job and family who will turn 31 tomorrow:

Old Film can be dangerous. It undermines the illusion that the present is eternal. We will not always overflow with vitality, strength, and beauty. Tonight we watched the 1935 Midsummer Night's Dream. It was breathtaking. What affected me most were the long dance scenes of the fairies and goblins. The dance was beautiful and stunning. It embodied life and death, magic and love, passion and sadness, sexuality and strength. It made me want to rise and dance around campus.

But that dance was not tonight, it was 65 years ago. All the dancers (even the children) are either broken with age or long dead and decaying. Film gives us something entirely different from a live performance. A live dance lets us become lost in the furious passions of this moment. In this moment I feel bold and strong, and the women in my life are as beautiful and graceful as the dancers.

Seeing a dance from 1935 doesn't allow such thoughtless joys. We must celebrate with those long dead. We cannot help but see this spellbinding pathos of the dance within the context of time. This forces us the acknowledge that even our own nights of dancing out the youthful life that pulses in our veins will end. We too grow old and die. We are aging even as we dance.

Film lets us partake in these mad revelries with past generations, but it caries with it a sad taste of mortality. As T.S. Eliot declared, “The dancers are all gone under the hill.” The dance may be eternal but the dancers are not.

Unfortunately the first video I posted was deleted. This is another section of the film.

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