Silent as a painting, the movie shows us day-dreamer Hermie and his friends Oscy and Benjie spending the summer of '42 on an US island with their parents - rather unaffected by WWII. While Oscy's main worries are the when and how of getting laid, Hermie honestly falls in love with the older Dorothy, who's married to an army pilot. When her husband returns to the front, Hermie shyly approaches her.
Oh. My. God.
What a stunning piece of craftmanship. A masterpiece. Such innocence. Such humanity. Such wisdom. Such truth. Such is the need to touch the soul of another, and such is the need to seek comfort. Yet tenderness risks so much. Oh to be tender again. Yet who could bear it again?
I remember when I was eight years old and I remember what a splash this movie made. I don't really recall that I was told or even understood why, and of course I wasn't taken to see it at that age, at that time, when it was common to keep children ignorant of much they are not today. I'm not sure now that it wasn't the craving of the parents to let themselves drown in the strangeness that is naivety prolonged too long just for the sake of innocence itself rather then some strange desire to protect the children from things they could already begin to feel within themselves but were not allowed to mention or ask about. Though the latter is, even today, what is trumpeted about as the reason for shielding children from things they might not be ready for, I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't really the parents who are just protecting themselves, trying to squeeze out more childhood days from their children for the parents to enjoy before they must finally release their darling children into the fray that tides upon the whims of nature and destiny.
This movie came out in 1971. Tonight they played it late on our local PBS station here in Dallas. I'd never seen it and not thought about renting it and watching it in all these 33 years since then.
One might say it is simply about a couple of 15 year old boys coming of age. But it is more than that. So much more. In fact, without question, it is about the human condition itself.
This is a movie about sex, no doubt about that either. But a movie of a kind that I don't think I've ever seen before. Everyone should see this film. Everyone.
If you live alone, see it and feel your own soul's needs. If you live with someone, see it together and draw him or her close.
Above all, when it is over, you will find yourself remembering and feeling that rarest of all feelings, true tenderness.
The young men should have received Oscars, and without question so too should have the woman. For she was woman, every woman.
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