Sunday, June 07, 2009


Edie Falco reading.

This terrific French film dealt with the disposition of a woman's estate among her three children; many important issues were dealt with an intelligent way. Great acting and all that.

But I was very interested in the idea recently put forth that the movie is really about the globalization that the French (and most of Europeans) are experiencing. In the movie, one child (they are all in their forties) now lived in the States; one in China and one remained in France. Naturally the three had very different ideas about what to do with their mother's summer home and its contents.

The two children abroad had very much lost their Frenchness. This is an idea you now hear aired often in European countries as they try to hold on to the remnants of another time. Certainly in countries like The Netherlands and England the battle, if you want to call it that, is lost.

We in the US have never been in this position. In fact, the less American we become, the more American we become since the country was built on otherness. Does this make sense?

What are some characteristics you see as strictly "American." Do you feel a need to retain them?
A hundred years hence, will these distinctions have largely disappeared if we are here on earth at all?


George said...

I've put SUMMER HOURS on my list of movies to see soon. Freedom and equality are bedrock American traits. Then, there are the "ugly" American traits: we think we're superior and we think we're right. That's why we're both loved and hated around the world.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I sometimes think we value the first too much and second too little though. When I took US government the book said our three guiding principles were freedom, equality and order. I bet the order of their importance would vary a lot from one American to another. With my husband, it's freedom. For me, equality. For my father, order. Obviously all are important.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I saw this at the New York Film Festival last fall and loved it.

Sometimes I think about identity in terms of where I was born/brought up. I was born in August, GA and lived there 9 years - yet the only trace of my "southern" heritage is the occasional "y'all" but without any accent whatsoever. I also lived in Maine for 9 years, and similarly have no accent. Nor are my hobbies particularly related to these places. If I were to call myself a "Mainer" or "Southerner" I'm not sure exactly how I would justify/explain this. I certainly identify more with Maine, since I spent my teenage years there, but I don't know for sure what distinctive Maine qualities I picked up.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I still think of myself as an east coaster after living in Michigan for 40 years. And I think that is prejudice on my part-privileging that area over the Midwest.
Maine and GA have such accents-they may have canceled each other out.