Dark and Light
I didn’t really want to watch that…but I suppose I’m a bit glad I did. Sweeney Todd. Old movie yes, but one I had not had the courage to watch until today. What drew me to it were some famous actors I appreciate and the darkness of the story of a “demon barber” and his compatriot who makes meat pies from the said demonic activities. My interest was akin to both that innate apish desire to watch the roadside accident as if I would learn something new, and the peer pressure of “everybody is doing it.” There were plenty of times I closed my eyes to the action of the barber’s barbarous knife, but I was also struck with the cruelty in the dark tale that is so common to the stories which men and women write.
Pick up a copy of Grimm’s fairy tales, and you will definitely not find the Disney versions. There are monsters, blood, and death in equal measure to heroism, grit, and love. The dark movie had moments of care, and strength and belief. Sometimes they were misguided, especially for the young boy who is heroically saved from poverty incidental to the macabre revenge the barber gives.
Eventually, the boy senses the evil and in a touching and terrible scene promises to the woman cook that he will protect her. She is moved to sing the same, and I believe she truly wants this. However, she sings while also plotting to do away with the boy himself. It’s the look on the woman’s face as she cuddles the boy and plots his doom that is both disconcerting and curious to me. That scene so poignantly captures the common spirit of humanity in so far as we seek to do evil and find good. Or, we may even seek to do good but awaken an evil along the way. And, in the case of either an ancient Grimm’s moral lesson or in the case of the beautifully filmed Sweeney Todd, the evil and good grow so intimately and closely in the human heart.
Perhaps that’s what I’m really looking for when I slow down to see that road accident with it’s flashing lights and emergency personnel. I’m hoping for a bit of heroism and looking for the love that is often around the corners of tragedy.
My work as a psychologist does not always allow me to journey with people in a way that clearly delineates good and evil themes. Our personal stories don’t have a filmmaker or musician that inserts the right symbolism or foreboding music to give us clues to what is next. Nevertheless, the timeless virtues are ones we can continue to strive for. Everyday we need a dose of the strength of our choices, the commitments to love, and determination to keep going whatever we are facing.