Believe me, age is not just a number. At 81 I felt that I did not enjoy anymore the stress of organising a film group that was running out of steam and decided to retire. To my delight a younger old woman revitalised it with her organisation skills and interest in looking at films critically. U3A in Brent Old Women in Film Group lives again with a potential of 18 members.
I was also encouraged to continue to be present online by Deborah Jermyn who asks in the introduction to her talk ‘Articulating style, ageing femininities in Fabulous Fashionistas’: … what are some of the challenges for academics trying to speak to/for the experiences of older women by analysing such texts, while simultaneously advocating for the need to give greater public recognition to the voices of older women themselves.
During the life of the group I failed miserably at recording the responses of the group’s deliberations. There were different attempts: note-taking by the participants prove to be often biased, recording, transcribing and summarising meaningfully the deliberations was too time-consuming. The few reports in the special page ‘Film Group’ of my blog got next to no hits. This year I will ask the women to write down their first reactions just after viewing and I will post them in the front page.
To introduce the ‘classics’ to the new membership and I chose Make Way For Tomorrow (MWFT) as our first film. I had written about Lucy on June 27 2013. I will add here that some reviewers thought that Lucy is ‘controlling, manipulative, and self-pitying martyr. In her defense, I will quote Helen Mirren in the Guardian: “I feel grateful that I’m in a happy marriage. My husband is a nightmare but I look forward to seeing him.” I feel that Leo McCarey catches with subtlety a couple – not a perfect one – where the woman has to deal with an incompetent husband whom she loves nevertheless. She faces facts he does not.
The Group: There were 10 of us with ages ranging from 58 to 95.
- An accurate account of family relationships with a fairy story ending.
- I could not relate to Lucy
- Clever in that the film is not obviously judgemental – we feel sympathy and irritation with all parties concerned. We do not see them alone until the end of film – last 20 mins – when we come to see the nature of their relationship. Contrast how they behave/appear with how people of their age are perceived today – they are not that old.
- 70 as ‘old’ different from now. Romantic view of the couple loads the narrative: humour and wisdom/shrewd. Beulah self-sacrificing though. Children one dimensionally selfish. Self critical parents – may brought them up – wheat/ash metaphor. Husband self-centred but recognised it.
- Sad. Many elderly people are in homes forgotten by their relatives.The woman was the stronger character of the two. There was no proper social care available at the time. Family’s guilt did not lead them to do anything useful.
- Very affecting, a bit over the top, but extremely well acted. Problems very applicable to today.
- I was not prepared for the emotions I felt at the end. The grotesque first half, the dark humour, the kindness of strangers, the shame of the children, I could have howled.
- I felt outraged at the ‘nastiness’ of the ‘children’ and the marginalisation of the old couple, but at the same time bemused at how one of the messages seems to be that old people might prefer to deal with things by denial (rather than taking control of their circumstances ) though I know this happens.
Header photo: Daniela Rosselson