My Miss Havisham

I met Miss Havisham late at night when I was 14 and alone in the house. I lived with my father, and he, as he was wont to do, was out for the night. Perhaps he’d be home at 3am or Sunday afternoon. He never promised any particular time.

from Great Expectations

We lived far from everything, fields around most of the house, a lake in front of the house, a highway in the distance. An only child, I had to find my own way to forget that the neighbors might not actually be close enough to hear screaming.

I’d curl up on the sofa and watch television. We got 5 channels, but two of them required going outside into the dark to turn the antennae, so after a certain hour, we really only had 3 channels.

On one of the channels I met Miss Havisham and fell in love with Charles Dickens. Perhaps you know his 200th birthday was the other day?

I watched the movie Great Expectations, and afterwards couldn’t stop thinking about Miss Havisham and Estella. They seemed to confirm my 14 year old perspective on love, and while I felt I was supposed to feel bad that Estella was being raised impervious to love, I also suspected this was not all together a bad thing. I rather wished I was Estella.

She was not afraid of boys.

But I feared I had far more in common with Miss Havisham–unstable and most likely to be left at the altar. Years later on my wedding day, when I was 27, I walked to the church in my wedding dress, my father at my side, with the slight nagging notion that my soon-to-be husband was going to change his mind.

I didn’t tell anyone Miss Havisham was at my wedding, but she was, quietly sitting in the corner of my mind, rather disappointed I wouldn’t be joining her.

Still, back when I was 14, having watched the movie, I went and read the book. The book was even better, and so I fell for Mr. Dickens.

Yes, he was flawed–seriously so–and not everything he wrote was perfect by any means, but how perfect does a writer need to be?

What if I could write one character that could stay with someone all of her life?

Is there any character like that for you?

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens. Glad you’re still with us. You know, in the way great story-tellers always are.

Oh, movies…

My grandmother used the word pictures to talk about movies. She would offer to take me to a picture show. She took me to see On Golden Pond. I might’ve been in the 7th grade. She really wasn’t interested in most pictures.

I like movies, but I don’t really mind that I hardly ever watch any these days. The movie has to be something special to me if I’m going to take that much time from my life. One thing I’ve never understood is watching a movie just because “it was something to see.”

Anyway, a friend posted a movie meme on his blog, and I thought I’d use it to make a post. Leave your own answers in the comments if you like (or write your own post and let me know).

1. Movie you love with a passion.

The Wizard of Oz And as with any passion, you either understand or you don’t.

2. Movie you vow never to watch.

Used to be Titanic. Still haven’t seen the entire movie, but I did get stuck watching the last hour a few months ago. Now I vow never to watch the entire thing. And most any horror flick. I’ve made a few exceptions, but usually regret it. Oh. And Batman. Don’t care what anyone says. Or any of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. Or Twilight. Or Anonymous.

3. Movie that left you literally speechless.

Dead Man Walking. Well, I managed to say one thing when the movie was over. My friend asked if I wanted a drink and I said yes.

4. Movie you always recommend.

I hate recommending movies. I don’t want you coming back annoyed at having wasted your time and money. Read reviews. Watch trailers. Take your own risks.

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

For a long time that was Harrison Ford, but I haven’t seen any of his films from the last ten years. Can’t think of anyone else. Probably Judi Dench. Though just this evening I was thinking of seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s new film The Woman in Black even though he isn’t my favorite actor and I vowed never to watch horror films. Mostly I sympathize with his efforts to transition from boy wizard and would like to show him my support.

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal of.

Tom Cruise. Adam Sandler. And I haven’t seen enough new movies to know who the hot young things are, so can’t speak to anyone else.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Humphrey Bogart. Helen Mirren.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen.

Ah, well. I can go for the obvious. Johnny Depp. (When he’s not hanging out on a Tim Burton movie set.)

9. Dream cast.

Hard to say, but it would have to involve Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, and Dame Maggie Smith. Maybe with David Tennant and John Cusack tossed in.

10. Favorite actor pairing.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Molly Ringwald and Ducky (yeah, you heard me).

11. Favorite decade for movies.

Don’t have one. Although I am usually reluctant to watch any film from the ’60s and ’70s.

12. Chick flick or action movie?

Neither. Don’t get me wrong. I loved When Harry Met Sally and Die Hard, but I don’t rush out to see the next incarnation of the genres.

13. Favorite movie setting.

London.

14. Hero, villain, or anti-hero?

I don’t know. Well, not the villain.

15. Black and white or color?

Don’t care.

Now, this one wasn’t in the meme on JES’s blog, but I think there should be this:

16. Movie you regret seeing.

I don’t know the name of this film, but I was in a hotel bar and they were showing this horrifying, misogynistic sci-fi flick on their TV. After watching three barely dressed women killed in sci-fi dystopian ways, I very much wanted to have my brain bleached.

My son and I did recently go see Hugo. That was a lovely film, and my 8 year old liked it.

And films you’d like to mention are?