Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Man and Superman...

...is a very wordy but (if you're in the mood for it), very witty play by George Bernard Shaw. He sort of makes fun of organized religion, politics, and Nitzche all at the same time. But this entry has nothing to do with that particular kind of Superman, I just wanted to pitch the play. It's very good.


I'm thinking about the standard up-up-and-away Superman today. I saw very few movies with my father, maybe unusual since I became a film buff, but he didn't really like the bother of heading to a theatre (or there was nothing he wanted to see). One exception was Superman: The Movie, opening...when? 1978? It was playing in a theatre that no longer exists, in a spot only blocks away from where I now live. He took my sister and I, a few days after my birthday long ago.

Thus and ergo Superman is always a distant Christmas memory only by virtue of it opening a few weeks before and the general tinsel. Not the character, only Christopher Reeve in the movie. Around a decade ago, the Crash Test Dummy 'Superman's Song' about his death (unrelated to 'Superman's Dead' by...wait...I forget their name...anyhow) was overplayed and overanalyzed to, well death. I mentioned to my wife once that I never needed to hear it again, but it plucked some mostly dormant heartstring. She rolled her eyes (and not improperly, just for the record). "Every boy says that about that song," she said.


Notice the term 'boy' rather than 'man', and here again, she's not being improper. Superman as a character will always evoke some kind of manufactured (but no less legitimate) nostalgia because every man has at one point in their life worn a (hopefully red) towel around their neck as a cape and run around their back yard pretending to fly. I have the DVD of the first movie somewhere and can't quite bring myself to watch it, I'm either too old or simply afraid of sliding back to being too young by watching it. The second film in the series is actually better directed and better written but it's not as much fun- the first film's director took it deadly seriously and it comes across onscreen as reverent, and every former-towel-wearing man will acknowledge it.

It was re-released a few years ago, I couldn't make the screening but a few friends attended, standing up and cheering at the first laser-printed appearance of the great red and yellow 'S' during the opening credits. I would have done the same. I did, in 1978 with my father and sister.


The theatre is gone. The Howard Johnsons restaurant next door is also toast, both of which I wish I could wander past. You can't go home again. You can barely even go to the movies again. But for the sense memory- since the season breeds so much of it, why can't I pick and choose a few myself? A month's pay for a plate of french fries, a snowy evening and a table with my sister and father after I saw Superman fly, for real, shortly after my 10th birthday.


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