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Peter T Chattaway

When Harry Met Sally...

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Mandi Bierly at Entertainment Weekly recently watched When Harry Met Sally... (1989) -- one of my official top ten favorites of all time -- and, as she puts it, she "had the surreal experience of realizing that I am now the same age as Sally."

I had pretty much that exact same experience six-and-a-half years ago.

I don't know when Bierly first saw the film, but if she's 32 or so now, then she was only 13 when the film first came out, and officially too young to see it. I wonder how old she was when she saw it the first time, and in what venue.

I, on the other hand, was 18 when it came out, and old enough to see it on EITHER side of the border -- and, given that I was on the cusp of adulthood, the movie represented my future, or so I thought. Just a few short years later, it began to feel like my present (as opposed to past or future), since a lot of my friends were getting married; but the bulk of the film, which concerns people who have been out of college for YEARS, still felt far off in the future to me. It thus came as a bit of a shock when I happened to watch the movie again a few weeks before my 31st birthday and came across the scene with this exchange:

Sally: And I'm gonna be 40.

Harry: When?

Sally: Someday.

Harry: In eight years.

Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there like this big dead end. And it's not the same for men. Charlie Chaplin had babies when he was 73.

Harry: Yeah, but he was too old to pick 'em up.

Sally is 32, near the end of the movie. Which means she was 31 for much of what preceded. Which means she was the same age that I was when I saw the movie in late 2001. Yikes. And the funny thing was, whereas my 20th birthday gave me a feeling of "Great! I can look down my nose at teenagers now!", my 30th birthday gave me a feeling of "Yikes, the next one's 40!" So I knew exactly what Sally was saying. (Hmmm, maybe I was influenced by my repeated viewings of this film in my younger years.)

So, given that Sally will always be 32, and given that the people who watch this film will always be getting older, I am curious: Who here has had a similar reaction to -- even relationship with -- this movie, first seeing it when they were younger and then discovering to their surprise that they are the same age as Sally? Who here was always older to begin with? Who here was the same age as Sally the first time they saw the film, and did you feel any affinity for her or the situation she found herself in at that point in her life?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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And the funny thing was, whereas my 20th birthday gave me a feeling of "Great! I can look down my nose at teenagers now!", my 30th birthday gave me a feeling of "Yikes, the next one's 40!" So I knew exactly what Sally was saying. (Hmmm, maybe I was influenced by my repeated viewings of this film in my younger years.)
Wait until you see 60 well on this side of the horizon!


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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And the funny thing was, whereas my 20th birthday gave me a feeling of "Great! I can look down my nose at teenagers now!", my 30th birthday gave me a feeling of "Yikes, the next one's 40!"

I wrote this when I was 37. So, now that I am 40, I would just like to say: I didn't feel anything in particular at my last birthday whatsoever. 40 doesn't feel all that different than 30 to me -- even though I was single and something of an up-and-comer, career-wise, back then, whereas now I've got a wife, three kids and no job. My life circumstances are very different now than what they were a decade ago, but somehow it didn't feel like a lot had changed. Maybe I'll feel different when I hit 50, I dunno.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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