Our family is currently watching the huge mini-series "War and Remembrance" by Herman Wouk. We've already completed the first series, "Winds of War". These are magnificent and should be shown to every U.S. History class in this country. Yes, the history is tainted a bit, but only a bit, by romantic interludes involving various members of the "Henry" family. I can think of at least three triangles going on. But does that distract from this history? Or is it PART of the history.
On looking back at this period of time, now 60 years ago, I notice a distinct and almost shocking difference in the way our current culture perceives romance. In this movie it's beautiful, painful, heart-rending, and mostly understated. When Rhoda and Palmer are "having tea" it's pretty clear what's really going on. But as adults, we know that. We don't need the whole affair graphically shoved in our faces on a large screen. So while we know it's not right, it's still allowed some beauty in our minds.
Nobody would argue that the years of World War II are possibly the most romantic in the history of our country. Beautiful movies were produced, songs just dripping with love, heartache and incredible melody were written by the thousands, letters were written, by hand and frequently. And all of this with the backdrop of a truly horrible war. Fighting everywhere so that it seems there will never be peace again. Unspeakable atrocities occurring in Germany that defy human reason are actually kept secret to the rest of the world for too long. So many families broken as men are shipped overseas and women move in to take over the jobs they left.
So WHY did romance thrive as it did? I don't know, but as I think about it my thoughts go back to a kinder time in general--a slower time when people took time to talk to each other, to visit, help, support--even before the war began. But then, what's happening now?
We are currently fighting a war. It's in some faraway place just like WWII, but much stranger to us. It's also not a "popular" war. People seem more concerned with placing blame, saving lives, ending it. I don't know enough to talk intelligently about this current war, but I know there is NO romance involved. It's just not part of it. The songs are not pretty. Movies about the war are ugly and unsettling--with little or no love.
I'm not proposing that WAR is a beautiful thing. It's decidedly not that. Too many people die or are debilitated. Society is torn apart. It's just interesting to note the incredible differences between then and now.
So getting back to the idea of showing this movie in history classes, I think seeing this sort of romance would do today's young people as much good as the detailed historical facts presented in this series. Perhaps more romance would encourage better feelings in general. Who knows?
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