SWEET CHILD OF MINE : on THE MAN IN THE MOON (1991)

FROM THE MGM STABLE

THE MAN IN THE MOON (1991)

CAST: REESE WITHERSPOON, JASON LONDON, EMILY WARFIELD, TESS HARPER, SAM WATERSTON, GAIL STRICKLAND.

DIRECTION : ROBERT MULLIGAN.

**

Like the very profound MY AMERICAN COUSIN (1985) that I had written about here in the beginning of the month , THE MAN IN THE MOON was another dramatic work set in the 1950s and informed as it surely may have been by director Robert Mulligan’s own inputs and memories from the era in which he was young and thriving with a sense of the world around him, it recreates the simple passions of the time. You can feel every intricate thread of emotions and the setting in its frames. Like I have always maintained, ultimately, it’s not about one era or place as cinematic representations portray the timeless mould in which humanity progresses through different epochs. THE MAN IN THE MOON does that for me. It was another gem that I was fortunate enough to watch on the MGM channel.

**

To this writer and cinephile, the title of the film serves as a symbol of an old world innocence that existed without technological know- hows and could thrive along with a spirit of enquiry. The delicate quietude of a simpler time when kinetic barrage of overinformed minds didn’t threaten a sense of wonder among children and adolescents is there to guide the film’s script. Of these impressively, closely held illusions of sweet moments when we are at a particular juncture of life. Later in the film, the MAN IN THE MOON becomes the memory of one beloved but now deceased. It is continuum of a wonder so harmless and heartwarming that it shatters our hearts to realize that the tragedy of loss is unsparing, as for DANI, the protagonist of this film. The remembrance of first love follows her coming of age.

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THE MAN IN THE MOON, as to point towards the lovely incandescence of first loves, is the prevailing mood of admiration for the one beyond our grasp, like the moon. Someone we seek from a distance as is the case with Dani’s admiration for her neighbour COURT (Jason London)

When she and her sister MAUREEN (Emily Warfield) look at the moon and converse in the presence of its comforting light, it becomes a testament to the mortal journey of lived experiences and the voyages to a cosmic otherworld we spin yarns about. Given its 50s setting, this was the pre Moon Landing era and so Dani’s fascination with the moon as it appears solemnly in the sky is natural to the mood of the times. Nobody, still, knows much about what lies there in the vast void of a starlit space. To a child of the 50s, the sight of the moon surely warranted a silent prayer for the order of things, not the fear of darkness but the order of tranquility and peace.

THE MAN IN THE MOON encapsulates all that for me. In the next post, I will write down the original review I had put to paper many years ago after watching it.

**

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