Peter T Chattaway, on 04 January 2012 - 12:25 AM, said:
: When Martha asks whether they live alone, and why the house is so big, she's neither desperate, nor self-justifying, nor ranting. She's simply disoriented.
Ah, you're apparently thinking of a different scene than the one that has come up most frequently in this discussion. Okay, I'll have to see that scene again, but if MMMM is merely disoriented at that point and not offering a critique of any sort, then, again, I don't see a whole lot of traction.
Martha is disoriented because she's been a part of a community that practices sustainable agrarian living (in addition to other, less sustainable practices). She can't see why two people need so much space. Her disorientation is an element in the film's
exploration about the question of different ways of living.
: A world of no boundaries? Then why do the men eat first while the women sit on the stairs waiting their turn to eat? Why is staring impolite? Not to mention the massive boundary between the cult itself and the outside world. Etc.
That last point actually occurred to me after I sent that post -- but of course, the cult DOES traverse that boundary whenever it wants to, for the purposes of stealing and killing the people it steals from, etc. So, not much of a real "boundary" from their point of view.
Good point about the staring and gender segregation, though.
The boundary between the cult and the outside world is not a physical boundary, but a social boundary. It is always reasonably clear who is inside and who is outside, above all in the scenes of stealing and killing. At the same time, there are degrees of belonging or not-belonging. One is initiated into the cult, and one can begin to edge out of the mainstream of cult life even before making a break for it. ("I'll have to expect less from you," Patrick growls at Martha.)
: Patrick understands that people need to be shown the way, and is willing and able to do that within the perverted scope of his outlook. The idea of showing Martha the way is not something that Lucy is able to step outside of her world to contemplate. She's not a bad person -- she's a good person. She's just limited by a world in which people are more or less responsible for themselves.
Again, this gets me wondering about the back-story re: the family in which these two sisters were raised etc.
And that's fine. But it's also legitimately a question about the values of the culture in which we find Lucy.
No, if the film were "moralizing" too, then anyone who seized on that to advance their own agenda would be sharing in the moralization. Obviously. But where there is little reason to believe that a film is moralizing, and people seize on slender elements that they think can be spun in a moralistic direction, then the moralizing is all theirs.
Whatever. Your language about "seizing" on the film in order to "advance one's own agenda" doesn't correspond to anything I recognize in my commentary on the film, but that's a question I'll leave to the discernment of all concerned.
: So why are they childless as yet? Why the disparity between the amount of house Ted and Lucy have and the amount of house they need?
Why would they only need space for kids? What about the parties they host? Society is bigger than the family, even as it is distinct from the family.
I think the party thing is pretty superficial. Lucy says that. But from what we see of the party scene -- very nicely done in one extended take -- I think it's less the case that they actually need that big house in order to accommodate the party as that the house is an accessory to the lifestyle and the social set with which they've chosen to associate.
(And now I'm getting flashbacks to a Twitter exchange between yourself and vjmorton re: the childless couple in Fireproof. I don't know if Jeff intended to nudge this discussion in an anti-family-planning direction, but I'm sensing that this, too, may be a "moralistic" element in your own response to the film that isn't necessarily implied by anything within the film itself. I mean, do we even see any babies on the commune? If not -- and I don't remember any, but my memory might be failing me here -- then I don't see how the absence of kids in Ted & Lucy's home can be held up as part of any sort of "critique".)
If not for the reasons stated, I would at any rate take it as a kindness if you could bring yourself to use the descriptive word "moral" rather than the judgmentally connotive words "moralistic" and "moralizing" in reference to my response to the film -- though I don't wish to limit your outlook, and if you find the judgmental words to be necessary, then continue to use them.
Yes, there are babies in the compound. They all look like Patrick, and the women all share in caring for them -- but only if they want to. Each finds her own role.