Some people waste away the Thanksgiving holiday dozing in and out of football games. I spent it rewatching good, depressing Nordic films. I think I have seen Cries and Whispers two or three times in my life. The first time was during the 1972 Thanksgiving holiday in Manhattan when I went with my grandmother who went through three radical transformations that year -- she bought a Volvo, she stopped wearing a girdle and she voted for McGovern. She also started wearing a lot of red, and I remember her blazing away in the middle of the audience, so clearly still a Kansas City dowager in the midst of subdued blacks, greys and beiges.
We also went to see Pippin on that same trip which she enjoyed much more, but I tried to enlighten her on what the Bergman film was all about. I'd already experienced death a few times, but I was clearly explaining the film without understanding it. Thirty-four years later I understand it but can no longer explain it. A woman dies. Her sisters and maid surround her. There is a lot of crying and whispering in dimly lit rooms. There is a lot of the color red
If I were to make a movie, it would involve the perfect shade of grey and very little talking, maybe windchimes instead of Bergman's clocks. Or maybe the sound of drawers opening. Watching Cries and Whispers again and seeing the sisters dull settling of the family estate makes me think of what my sister and I are doing with our parents house (very little red, my father's favorite color, my mother's least favorite -- there is an excess of blue and mahogany), she was struck by the sound of the drawers in the kitchen. They are sounds familiar to us for 50 years. I've been recording some of those sounds in my Treo 650 and, who knows, may create my own film about the search for the perfect shade of grey. And, to quote Jimmy Webb, where does brown begin?