Thursday, October 31, 2013

Film review of "Secondhand Lion"

I am taking a course with Iversity. In the first week's lessons, the assignment was to state why you loved a particular story and a synopsis of the story.

Warning: there are commercial links to reviewed dot com which I have not put on the blog post. I don't know why they are there. I want to get rid of them. I'll introduce any link I have placed.

I chose the movie "Second Hand Lion"

What I liked about the story.

One of my favorite movies is “Second Hand Lion”. Robert Duvall (Hub) and Michael Caine (Garth) create a character that you can identify. In an interview I watched, Michael Caine said “talent was only a small portion of his acting ability. It was the years of training that made him a good actor”. Training and practice makes all of us good at what we do. Excellent work by the cast was evident.

The setting was interesting. The house, the Arabian love story, delivery of the lion, all added to the fascination of the story. The film seems to wander in its subplots and the hero's journey of the boy character, Walter Caldwell played by Haley Joel Osment. However, there are no scenes which do not build story. Each scene is written to portray vivid action. In classic film storytelling only one character is changed and that is Walter. The subplots add to the hook and hold of the film.

What I liked most about the film are the characters. There was the fantasy that was told in a way that it was possible. The movie was a celebration of living life to the fullest which is a fantasy to think we could always rise to that mindful of a life. The story was about love and the connection between humans.
Story Summary

Walter is abandoned by his selfish mother with two eccentric great uncles. He is not welcome. In essence the hero's journey has begun. Initially, Walter tries to keep in contact with his mom but he soon realizes she has been dishonest with him about his whereabouts.

In the process of living together, the boy and uncles bond. Through seemingly outrageous stories of valor and adventure of Hub and Garth and the uncles living life on their terms, Walter learns what it is to be a man, a man of character and the right to live life well.

Hub and Garth were “shanghaied” into the French Foreign Legion shortly after WWI. Hub had an intense love for a wife named Jasmine. Her death and the loss of Jasmine haunts Hub. He walks in his sleep ever searching for his youth and Jasmine. Garth is the narrator in that he tells of their exploits and makes sense of Hub's actions. One line I remember is that “a man may grow old but his spirit never does”. This tale in related in flashbacks by Garth to Walter.

Walter's mother returns with a stepfather. They want Walter to show them Hub and Garth's fortune. At first it is friendly and then it is abusive. Walter does not show where his uncle's fortune is. The stepfather gets his due after a series of events. Walter is forced to leave with his mother and stepfather who is in a serious body cast.

The hero's journey of change is evident. Close to the end, it looks like Walter will be returning to a miserable life with his mother and abusive stepfather. Walter pleads his case to be given a chance to have a good life. She relents and he returns to his uncles.

You get a warning that the superhuman antics of Hub in the story could be possible. Hub beats up several “toughs” at a restaurant. The “toughs” started the fight and Hub finished the fight. Then Hub takes them home and feeds them a big meal after nursing their wounds. He gives the “toughs” a talk about what it means to be a man. The “toughs” are changed by the incident.

The payoff in the end is accentuated where the boys story is moved to his adulthood. Hub and Garth have been killed in a biplane accident. An helicopter of an Arab man and his son arrive at the farm. Essentially, the man confirms the adventurous tales of Hub and Garth in their younger days. The payoff is cheered.

I am taking the course through Iversity. They offer many web based courses which are Free. It is about an hour long video class with optional supplemental materials and a weekly assignment. How much you want to participate is your choice.

This is a link to their course catalog.

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