Thursday, October 25, 2012

Splendor in the Grass



"Spoiled?  No, Mom, I'm not spoiled.  I'm not spoiled, Mom.  I'm a good little, good little, good little girl!  I'm fresh and virginal." (Deanie, SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS)  I'm not spoiled...  Gawd, that's a loaded sentence.  What does it even mean to be spoiled?: Sexually, Mentally, Intellectually?  Damned if I know, but its one of the most famous line's from Elia Kazan's SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, a personal favorite.  The film's narrative is about young woman named Deanie (Natalie Wood) and how her relationship with her boyfriend Bud (Warren Beatty) and her possessive mother, pushes her so far over the edge that she attempts suicide and lands in a mental institution.  In the hospital, Deanie learns to accept who she is and meets a gentle and kind doctor also suffering from a nervous breakdown whom she marries.  When she leaves the hospital, Deanie's relationship with Bud is a thing of the past.  The film ends with Deanie thinking of a William Wordsworth quote: "Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower, we will grieve not; rather find strength in what remains."

Now when I was young and naive, I thought the ending of SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS was sad.  My rather warped mind believed Bud's somewhat abusive treatment was something to valued, and, thus, longed to see Deanie and Bud together.  Now, years later, time, experience, and a whole lot of hard knocks have changed my opinion about the film.  The Splendor in the Grass quote to me is not about a pinnacle moment with Bud.  Its about our childhood.  Its about who we were before we understood how the world works.  Before the Bud's of the world took us apart.  Our lives are full of Splendor in the Grass moments.  Moments of beauty and peace or at least I hope they are (I'm due, People!!)  We do not weep when the moments pass.  Instead, we glory in the fact we had them at all and allow them to give us strength for the future.  The Good Little Girl who once longed see Deanie with Bud, now revels in the fact Deanie ends up with the doctor.  The one who understands her and she him.  

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