Popular culture provides shorthand for our conversations. Everyone does not know what Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis means, but almost every adult knows something about Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know who Marilyn Monroe is. Any male who has a pulse remembers Marilyn standing above the subway grate with her dress blowing up in The Seven Year Itch. I’m not sure why women know who she is, but they do. She is a Movie Star!
Surely every adult in the US has seen Rhett Butler tell Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” in Gone with the Wind. A lot of us had nightmares about the shower scene in Psycho. One of my favorite movie moments is the famous line of the warden in Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
But none of those iconic movie moments make me want to go anywhere. The Bates Motel will get along without me just fine, thank you. Jaws does not make me want to go to the beach.
However, Forrest Gump make me want to visit Savannah, Georgia, for a weekend trip. Braveheart makes me want to travel to Scotland. Gandhi continues to pique my interest about India.
Sometimes, the scenic appeal that is captured on film works out when you actually go there, sometimes, not so much.
When I first saw and heard Julie Andrews sing at the beginning of The Sound of Music, I wanted to be where she was: “The hills are alive…” I believed her. Some movies make me want to go to wherever “there” is. The Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg, Austria. I have never been in those mountains, but I was on a hike in the Colorado Rockies as a teenager. I remember saying, “This is like The Sound of Music.” Breathtaking beauty. Huge vistas. Tiny flowers. Lovely.
Casablanca has been one of my favorite movies for decades. When the opportunity came for me to spend a day in Morocco on a trip to West Africa, I jumped at the chance. I hired a taxi to give me a tour of the “Old Town.” The taxi driver, who did not speak English, had no idea what I was talking about. I knew “Rick’s” didn’t really exist, but I thought that surely there was something reminiscent of the fictional Casablanca somewhere. Finally, pulling out some college French, I asked for the “ancienne ville.” Ah. He understood. At least, he took me somewhere, a pitiful substitute for Humphrey Bogart’s fascinating world, a shoddy flea market district.
(Note: Disappointed as I was not to find the hangouts of the imaginary Casablanca, I was impressed by the nearby Hassan II Mosque.)
Sometimes the dream comes true. Sometimes it doesn’t. Life, after all, is reality rather than fantasy.
One of my favorite quotations that I try to remember when my imagination becomes too much “there” and “then” and too disconnected from here and now: “An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia.” Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay