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PICTURES OF LOSS: MEN DON'T LEAVE, directed by Paul Brickman

It would seem that what I want are movies about the art of losing, as Elizabeth Bishop might say. But some of those same movies are also about the art of finding. Take Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, a film that made a deep impression on me when I first saw it at the precocious age of eight. While young Jamie Graham is separated from his mother and father in Shanghai during World War II, in the end the family is brought back together. The loss is temporary. The loss is remedied. When he sees his mother for the first time since he let go unthinkingly let go of her hand on the fateful day, he almost can’t believe it. He reaches for her face and hands, as if to verify the miracle that she is back. (For some reason, it always struck me that Jamie’s mother wore red nail polish when they were separated, but she doesn’t when they are reunited—after a war, everyone looks worse for the wear, not just Jamie.)
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • November 24, 2011 11:07 AM
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  • 4 Comments

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