Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One More Ride on "Carousel"

Carousel is a beautiful love story between Julie Jordan (Shirley Jones) and Billy Bigelow (Gordon McCrae) filmed in 1956. This story is about Billy asking for permission to be sent down from his level of heaven (where he is in charge of shining the stars) for one day to try to make amends for the mistakes he made in life to his wife and friends and to see his child he never got to meet. Julie Jordan works in a local factory in town and meets bad boy Billy at a carousel where he is the barker. Eventually, Julie and him get married but Billy's bad habit leave him without a job and forced to live with Julie's cousin Nettie. When Julie tells Billy that she is pregnant, he feels he has to clean up his act but instead chooses crime to do this which ultimately gets him killed. His one day return is emotional, forgiving and heartbreaking and I've probably seen it 50+ times.

I remember snuggling up on the bed with my sister Sheila and watching this movie with her in her girly, pink room decorated with parasols. Even as a little girl I remember crying when Billy dies and even understanding the plot, though it was a bit morbid and unethical at times. I was always scared when it came to a very distinctly different ballet scene where the story was reenacted through dance.

This movie was very impressionable and watching it again made me realize a few things about the reality of the movie as well as personality traits in myself. Watching it later in life, and now, I realized the ballet scene was retelling the story in ballet form but was very odd and I can see why it upset me when I was young. The movie still makes me cry but I can understand more of the complexity of the plot. In the movie, Billy actually hits Julie but she still loves him and forgives him, though he can't forgive himself. This is the reason he is in heaven shining stars - it is punishment.

Singing one of my favorites, "You'll Never Walk Alone", after Billy dies
One of the few scenes where Billy breaks down his tough exterior for Julie
Now, although I do not understand how domestic abuse relates to my life, I can say that this type of bad boy persona is exactly the kind of men I know I will marry. I was brought up under a subconscious impression that showed men should not show their feelings - that it is a sign of weakness - and that this kind of difficult and non-outward love was the norm. I may not agree that this is how it should be but I can't deny that this is the kind of man I have been set up for...and my parent's relationship was quite similar. My mom would be all over my dad and my dad would coil in hilarious rebellion but, though my dad could not show his love outwardly my parent's relationship was stronger than oak. 

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