Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cathartic moments

Some people are like slinkies, they don't really have a purpose, but theystill bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.

No, my daughter didn't push her father down the steps however awful she thought his running shorts were. I've just found that little joke in my newsletter from Bulawayo. As ever, I am amazed at the way people manage to joke amid the difficulties of everyday life. I think it must be a kind of safety valve to stop them being overwhelmed by anxiety and grief.

The most effective use of this device that I've seen in a film is in Steel Magnolias. Shelby has just been buried, the heartbroken husband, father and brothers have left the graveside but her mother (Sally Field) remains. All her pent up emotion is poured into a speech about the loss of her lovely daughter then Olympia Dukakis saves the moment with a shocking piece of humour. It never fails to startle me. I used to show this clip to students to teach them the meaning of catharsis:


  1. Brilliant. Sally Field is always amazing, but this is priceless. Thanks for posting!

  2. If you haven't seen Steel Magnolias, J, you must. A real 'sisterhood' laugh and cry movie. Men hate it or just don't get it.


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