Friday, April 16, 2010

Moments that Melt You: Philadelphia, la Mamma Morta

If you don't know what I'm talking about when I say "the opera scene from Philadelphia", please click the You Tube link presented above and spend 5 minutes with cinematic greatness. I have heard it said that this scene solidified the Oscar win for Tom Hanks.  It certainly is a masterful performance as well as an example of genuine cinematic artistry.  Minimal and pure, all elements of this scene contain poignant meaning and emotion.  The lighting, the angle of the camera, the close-ups of Hanks face as he becomes the embodiment of Maria Callas vocal suffering, the manifestation of the miraculous emotive quality of the music, and the curious cuts back to Denzel Washington as he finds himself immersed within his clients grief and lust for life. When the film was released in 1993, I was 14 and no more interested in Opera or cinematic artifice as I was in eating liver for dinner. I wanted to be entertained, not asked to think about mortality and the impact of art and music on the vibrations of the transcendent soul.  This scene helped me to fall in love with art, fall in love with music and fall in love with the cinema.  Such moments are rare enough in life, but reflect the human need for artistic self-expression and acceptance of the awesome nature of the mysteries of connectedness.

1 comment:

  1. I happened to come across your article while looking up the lyrics of Mamma Morta. Someone I know just passed away from cancer and death always makes me think of this movie and this song in particular as well as the song 'Philadelphia' by Neil Young which is played at the end of the movie. This movie is one of my favourites. I love it from beginning to end from the music, the acting, the story, everything. I agree with you and had to comment, this is one of the best scenes of the whole movie and it makes me think of being on the brink of death and the tragedy of it all. The raw emotion from Tom Hanks, it was simply stunning. It's nice to see that someone else thought the same.