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Walk the Line


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I just finished watching "Walk the Line." Maybe I'm coming into this real late. But then again, you've guys HAVE resurrected old threads in the past.

Couple of things. SDG asked in post #71:

I completely disagree. I think that as portrayed in the film, Cash has Vivian to THANK for his career. If not for her, he could have been plunking away with his "band" in the living room for the rest of his life. She was the one who really believed in his talent, not him. She was the one who got him off his butt and out to that recording studio. When Sam Phillips told him he could have an appointment in a month and Johnny said "I can't wait that long," it was Vivian's prodding that gave him that sense of urgency. That same sense of urgency arguably gave him the inspiration he needed in the studio to come up with the performance that ultimately impressed Phillips. And when he got the contract, the first thing he did was run home and tell Vivian, who was overjoyed for him/them.

The reason Johnny Cash could not wait that long was because his rent was due and they were about to be evicted. The scene starts out with Johnny sitting on the porch playing with his "band" (mechanics by day/rockers by night) and Johnny hears the woman yelling at her kid across the street. The kid's name is "Jack" and Johnny takes notice of this (his brother's name was Jack). He starts to sing when his wife runs into the bathroom where she tells Johnny she wants to go back home to her "Daddy." She tells him that she is living in dump with their baby with one on the way. In this scene she doesn't have much faith in him or his band because she compares it to what is playing on the radio (that her friend turned up so as possibly to drown out their arguing). A couple of scenes later she is helping him get ready for his audition with Sam Phillips. This is AFTER she learns that he GOT the audition. So there seems to be a lot of this bittersweetness that she has about Johnny and his career. I think the comments made here are really insightful as to how people think her attitude and character should be and then judge Johnny Cash in the movie based on THAT. Really interesting. What kebbie said, "All that to say, some of this disagreement may be a matter of perspective, and some of said perspective may be gendered."

On the whole though, throughout the movie I got the sense that she was a drag on him and this is possibly why in real life Vivian's daughter upped and walked out of the theatre. As a matter of fact I would hazard to guess one of those scenes.

In one of the scenes, Johnny Cash is having a concert with June and has his family there. They are singing, "It Ain't Me, Babe." The lyrics go like this:

"It Ain't Me, Babe"

Go away from my window

Leave at your own chosen speed

I'm not the one you want, babe

I'm not the one you need

You say you're lookin' for someone

Who's never weak but always strong

To protect you and defend you

Whether you are right or wrong

Someone to open each and every door

[CHORUS:]

But it ain't me babe

No, no, no, it ain't me babe

It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe

Go lightly from the ledge, babe

Go lightly on the ground

I'm not the one you want, babe

I'll only let you down

You say you're lookin' for someone

Who'll promise never to part

Someone to close his eyes to you

Someone to close his heart

Someone to die for you and more

[REPEAT CHORUS]

You say you're lookin' for someone

To pick you up each time you fall

To gather flowers constantly

And to come each time you call

And will love you for your life

And nothin' more

[REPEAT CHORUS]

Now, though both J&J are romp'n around up on stage there are shot's from Johnny's point of view of the whole family, and at times, as if Johnny is looking at them. There's a part where you know then that Johnny is looking (basically staring) at Vivian because:

A. Johnny's dad looks to his left toward Vivian as if he notices that Johnny is singing to her.

B. The scene is constructed in such a way that it lines up with the second verse.

The idea that one gets when they are watching that scene is as if Johnny is saying to his wife, "I'm not the one for you" or "We're not meant for each other." It ain't me babe!

One of the things I found most interesting about this scene was the family shot of his stern cold hearted, unapproving father and Vivian (maybe one of the first scenes in which you see them together). I couldn't help but notice the parallels as if trying to drive home Peter's point that being married to Vivian was much like Johnny's relationship with his father--a prison of sorts. Throughout the movie she just nags on him and of course depending on the depth of the relationship and how intertwined it is, she is probably contributing significantly so to the break-up.

Edited by BBBCanada

Brandon

"God is so great and merciful that he does not require that we name him precisely. God is even willing to be anonymous for a time. Remember how God led the Three Wise Men from the East to Christ? The Wise Men did not know the God of Israel or Jesus. They worshipped the stars. So God used a star to lure them."--The Twelve Steps for Christians

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I couldn't help but notice the parallels as if trying to drive home Peter's point that being married to Vivian was much like Johnny's relationship with his father--a prison of sorts. Throughout the movie she just nags on him and of course depending on the depth of the relationship and how intertwined it is, she is probably contributing significantly so to the break-up.

True, she does nag on him...but I see why. He isn't the best father/husband, and he continuously says the wrong things at the wrong times (i.e., when he fondly recalls being chased by underage girls when Viv is complaining about the "obscene" fan mail he's receiving).

I love this film dearly, and it's grown on me every time I've seen it (probably about 5-6 times now, I'd guess). However, the portrayal of Vivian is the one major caveat I have with the work as a whole. I can't help but feel sorry for her, and I wish that James Mangold and company could have crafted her into a more sympathetic character.

Edited by Jeff

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood

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I couldn't help but notice the parallels as if trying to drive home Peter's point that being married to Vivian was much like Johnny's relationship with his father--a prison of sorts. Throughout the movie she just nags on him and of course depending on the depth of the relationship and how intertwined it is, she is probably contributing significantly so to the break-up.

True, she does nag on him...but I see why. He isn't the best father/husband, and he continuously says the wrong things at the wrong times (i.e., when he fondly recalls being chased by underage girls when Viv is complaining about the "obscene" fan mail he's receiving).

I love this film dearly, and it's grown on me every time I've seen it (probably about 5-6 times now, I'd guess). However, the portrayal of Vivian is the one major caveat I have with the work as a whole. I can't help but feel sorry for her, and I wish that James Mangold and company could have crafted her into a more sympathetic character.

Doesn't the fact that you feel sorry for her indicated something of a sympathetic potrayal? I always felt that she was depicted as having gotten the short end of a deal, being upstaged first by his music career and then by the incomparable person of June Carter. Johnny never comitted himself to her, so his eventual departure isn't that surprising.

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  • 8 months later...
The extended cut cometh. And apparently, in addition to 17 extra minutes of footage, it will include a featurette on "Cash and his Faith". (Was this on any of the earlier DVD editions?) Is this in response, I wonder, to the criticisms of some viewers who wished the film had gone more into the role that religious faith played in bringing Cash around? Might the extra 17 minutes of footage pay more attention to this part of the story, too?

"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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  • 5 years later...

Where would we be without Wikipedia? I did exactly the same!

FWIW I've done two other bits on the Gospel Road film at my blog here and here

Matt

Just in case anybody's interested: The Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus is now streaming on Netflix Instant in the US.

Inspired by his deep Christian faith, "Man in Black" Johnny Cash wrote and produced this passionate retelling of the story of Jesus Christ, featuring original songs by Cash; his wife, June Carter Cash; John Denver; and singer-actor Kris Kristofferson. Filmed primarily in Israel, this powerful reenactment was such a heartfelt labor of love for Cash that he also narrates and appears in the 1973 production.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I own the Gospel Road. It's flawed but worthy checking out, if not only for Cash's voice and presence. "Passionate" and "Labour of Love" are written all over it.

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  • 1 year later...

Zadie Smith, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, 2009, pgs. 190-191 -

... It is presumptuous to speak of the parallels between Phoenix's biography and Cash's, but there is no doubt that whenever the plot returns to the trauma of the missing brother, Phoenix's game raises and the audience grows tense.  Several scenes are of an emotional intensity out of all proportion to the humdrum musical biopic one expects.

 

And then, at just the right moment, Reese Witherspoon takes over and brings the film home.  Witherspoon has the kind of maniacal feminine perkiness that people of a Woosterish temperament cannot abide.  I like her.  I like her triangular chin and her head-girl, can-do attitude.  Here she plays Cash's savior and eventual second wife, June Carter, and it's a great piece of casting: Witherspoon is a twelve-step program in and of herself.  She's so capable, so hardworking, so upright and practical - underrated virtues among actresses.  Physically, and in all other ways, Witherspoon makes the best of what she has.  She has June's steely self-sufficiency down pat.  "Marry me, June," begs Cash, not for the first time.  "Oh, please, get off your knees; you look pathetic" is the sensible response ...

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Funny. I saw the trailer last night for Wild, based on a book I pretty much despised, and it stars Witherspoon. It'll be interesting to see how her "maniacal feminine perkiness" fits with her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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