Friday, April 23, 2010

Movies & Poetry: "The Drink"

Krista sent me this fun prose poem * last year, and now I'm rounding up connections between poetry and film, I finally have the perfect place to post it.

Does it bring a movie scene to mind?

"The Drink"

I am always interested in the people in films who have just had a drink thrown in their faces. Sometimes they react with uncontrollable rage, but sometimes––my favorites––they do not change their expressions at all. Instead they raise a handkerchief or napkin and calmly dab at the offending liquid, as the hurler jumps to her feet and storms away. The other people at the table are understandably uncomfortable. A woman leans over and places her hand on the sleeve of the man's jacket and says, "David, you know she didn't mean it." David answers, "Yes," but in an ambiguous tone––the perfect adult response. But now the orchestra has resumed its amiable and lively dance music, and the room is set in motion as before. Out in the parking lot, however, Elizabeth is setting fire to David's car. Yes, this is a contemporary film.

--by Ron Padgett,
from You Never Know, Coffee House Press, 2002

The movie scene that comes to my mind doesn't lend itself to the Ironic Lite tone that strikes the "I'm not deeply invested" note, so popular in modern life. (It's amusing, but for me, a little goes a long way.)

The scene is from To Kill a Mockingbird, and it paralyzed me when I was a kid:
the mad dog racist Bob Ewell spits in Atticus Finch's face, and Atticus merely takes out his handkerchief and wipes the gob off his cheek.

Only as an adult do I, a Northerner, see this movie is as full of class tension as it is of racial tension.

[Image from Screencap Heaven]

*Wikipedia notes prose poetry is bascially the same as what we now call flash fiction (a kind of microwriting).


Margaret said...

No scene of any movie I've ever watched comes to mind. But the description of it is so simple and effective that my mind created a scene of it's own. David is Marlon Brando but with an upper class rather-is-rother British accent. He's wearing a black tux with a silk collar and bow tie. Elizabeth is Lucille Ball, which makes no sense. David's lady is Rosemary Clooney. The tablecloth is white, as is the wine.

Atticus. He is so very good. Like a gentle Captain Kirk.
Well, maybe not.
Kirk would at least scowl if someone spit in his face. Or "now you listen here!"

Fresca said...

Hey, that's good, Margaret!
The poem was like a real movie-scene to me too, but I pictured whisky and someone like John Cusak.

(It must be colored water in the movies. Think how real alcohol in your eye would sting!)

"Now you listen here!" Yeah, that's Kirk, with his little fists all balled up.