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Darrel Manson

places in the heart

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I know there is a thread on this, but it's read only (and a year old). Rather than reopening the Places vs. Tender Mercies discussion we had there, I have a question for those who can recall the film well enough to answer.

We watched this at church last week. One of the things I noticed was how frequently you could hear a train whistle in the background. Just atmosphere? Or is that perhaps a reminder of the Spirit blowing through life?


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Or poorly planned filming location.

I produced a Jr. High show of Anne of Green Gables in a bldg very close to train tracks. We had rehearsed only after school, but the show was at 7:00 PM.

During the performance in the opening scene where they pick Anne up at the train station, the train went by and the effect was perfect. However, since we'd never been in the room that late befroe, it was quite a surprise to me that EIGHT trains would go by during the course of the show.

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Just atmosphere? Or is that perhaps a reminder of the Spirit blowing through life?

I used this film just a few months ago with a study group at my church, and the train whistle may actually be more than just coincidence. If you haven't seen Places in the Heart recently, maybe all you remember is Sally Field picking cotton, but the film struck me as very carefully constructed, in terms of visual and sound imagery.

I still think it ought to be on the A&F Top 100.

Edited by BethR

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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my "just atmosphere" comment was facetious. I agree that this is a tightly constructed film. I'm not sure my "spirit blowing" interpretation is correct, but I know that Benton has it there for a reason.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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A few thoughts about the spiritual significance of the film, from a presentation for a class last fall.

:spoilers: throughout

The Communion of the Saints in Places in the Heart

Places in the Heart, written and directed by Robert Benton in 1984, won two Academy Awards


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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As a black man, Mose occupies the lowest place in this 1930’s Texas community, yet he brings Edna the knowledge of how to farm cotton, helps her harvest the crop and keep her family together. It’s certainly significant that one number the dance band plays is “Cotton-eyed Joe,” pointedly singing the refrain, “If it hadn’t’ve been for Cotton-eyed Joe, I’d’ve been buried a long time ago...”

I don't really see the "Cotton-Eyed Joe" at the dance as significant of anything except that the story takes place in Texas. Every dance I've ever attended in Texas features "Cotton-Eyed Joe" at some point... even trendy rock-driven high school dances. I suppose the influence of Bob Wills has embedded the song in our culture. As you may or may not know, the Texas way to respond to the caller during the "Cotton-Eyed Joe" is:

Caller: "Now what you say?"

Dancers: "Bull -s--t!"

Caller: "Y'all say what?"

Dancers: "Bull -s--t!"

Caller: "Still can't hear you..."

Dancers: "Bull -s--t!"

And for what it's worth, I believe the correct lyric is, "...I'd been married a long time ago..."

Finally, we return to “Blessed Assurance,” the great church and the small one. Look carefully at who is in the pews as the hymn ends, the pastor begins reading the scripture, and the communion plates are passed. This scene is the best symbolic image I’ve ever seen of “the communion of the saints,” the Holy Eucharist or Lord’s supper in which we are united in remembering Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection, and also the mystical unity of the church, the Body of Christ, which exists both now and in eternity.

That's a wonderful scene.

The movie begins and end with bread and wine. (The sheriff had dinner rolls in his pockets and his drunk murderer had a bottle of wine.)

Edited by TexasWill

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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As a black man, Mose occupies the lowest place in this 1930

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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I don't really see the "Cotton-Eyed Joe" at the dance as significant of anything except that the story takes place in Texas. Every dance I've ever attended in Texas features "Cotton-Eyed Joe" at some point... even trendy rock-driven high school dances. I suppose the influence of Bob Wills has embedded the song in our culture. As you may or may not know, the Texas way to respond to the caller during the "Cotton-Eyed Joe" is:

Caller: "Now what you say?"

Dancers: "Bull -s--t!"

Caller: "Y'all say what?"

Dancers: "Bull -s--t!"

Caller: "Still can't hear you..."

Dancers: "Bull -s--t!"

And for what it's worth, I believe the correct lyric is, "...I'd been married a long time ago..."

Interesting. I'm a fan of Wills. FWIW, Benton would know this. He grew up in Texas. Looking back to 1984, this sort of response would have been a glaring contrast to the feel of the film. Now, say 22 years after Asleep at the Wheel has re-popularized Bob Wills and become almost an institution in their own right, it might be just another scene.

Or, Nicolosi and Beth might have the point precisely because of the ommission.


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Interesting. I'm a fan of Wills. FWIW, Benton would know this. He grew up in Texas.

Yes, he was born and raised in Waxahachie, about an hour or so from Fort Worth, a city that served as Wills home base off and on throughout his career.

For what it's worth, Places in the Heart was filmed on location in and around Waxahachie.

Looking back to 1984, this sort of response would have been a glaring contrast to the feel of the film.

To some degree, that's true. You wouldn't have heard that much Bob Wills music at that time, although I can't remember a time when I didn't hear Cotton-Eyed Joe on a regular basis: from music class in elementary school (where we did rudimentary square dancing) in the early 1970s, through junior high (latter half of the 1970s), to high school (1979-1984). As a caveat though, during that part of my life I was living in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area of Texas (in the southeast corner of Texas next to the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana) where there was a very heavy Cajun music/dance influence.

The last time I heard it was at a Texas Rangers baseball game about 10 days ago. I think they play it at every home game during the 7th inning stretch. I rarely go a month without hearing it playing in public somewhere.

Now, say 22 years after Asleep at the Wheel has re-popularized Bob Wills and become almost an institution in their own right, it might be just another scene.

Yep. I have both of the Asleep at the Wheel Bob Wills tribute recordings. I listen to "Ride With Bob" on a regular basis.


"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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