Perspective is everything when it comes to art. To illustrate this, I offer the following.
The year was 1981. I was twenty-three years old. My parents invited me to go to the movies with them to see a
film entitled, On Golden Pond. I passed on their invitation. Why? The film was about old people. Why would I
want to see that? Like I said, I was twenty-three.
Before continuing on with my personal account of the film, I suppose I should provide a brief introduction for those
who have never seen it and a refresher for those who have.
On Golden Pond is about an elderly couple played by Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda who spend their
summer, as they have in years past, in a cottage on the shore of a lake in New England. While several topics are
addressed, the film is primarily about a man turning eighty who is coming to terms with his mortality. In telling this
story, On Golden Pond beautifully blends poignant drama with an abundance of humor.
All artwork featured in this SPOTLIGHT, whether written or visual, © copyright the respective artists. All rights reserved.
Filmed among the natural splendor of Squam Lake in
New Hampshire, On Golden Pond co-stars Jane Fonda,
Doug McKeon, Dabney Coleman and William Lanteau.
The film was written by Ernest Thompson and directed
by Mark Rydell. The director of photography was Billy
Williams and Dave Grusin composed the music.
It is always a pleasure to see the efforts of talented artists
working on a creative project such as this fit so perfectly,
resulting in a film that truly stands the test of time.
Getting back to my relationship with the film...flash
forward about seven years. Not such a long time perhaps,
but long enough for me to view a work of art with a slightly
matured perspective. Here's what happened.
There wasn't much on television one particular night except
for the showing of On Golden Pond, so I thought, why not
give it a try. About fifteen minutes in, I was hooked! I couldn't
believe how stupid I had been when I was younger! Keep in
mind that it was the same film that I thought would bore me
to tears. Same great story. Same great acting. Same great
directing, cinematography and music. Nothing had changed.
Nothing, that is, except my perspective. Being a nature
photographer who's had the pleasure of photographing in
New England on numerous occasions, I couldn't help but
feel a connection to the beautiful scenery portrayed in the
movie as well.
I soon added a copy of the film to my video library. I played it often, and not just when there wasn't anything good
on television. I enjoyed watching it alone and with others...including my mom and dad. As time passed and my life
evolved, my relationship with the film more or less ended.
A few weeks ago, my wife Karen and I watched On Golden Pond
in preparation for my writing this SPOTLIGHT. I hadn't viewed the
film in its entirety in nearly ten years. The experience was like visiting
an old friend who I hadn't seen in a long time. One that I dearly
missed. The experience also made me realize that I am beginning
to acquire the perspective of someone who is approaching the age
of those "old people" in the film and coming to terms with my own
As the years flow by like the ripples in that enchanted lake, it is nice to know that art has the power to teach us that
even though life rushes by, leaving us a bit confused and perhaps disillusioned at times, art can also comfort us by
providing a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world.
I wish I had accepted my parent's invitation to see On Golden Pond with them in the theater all those many years
ago. I also wish we could see things more clearly when we are young before our vision becomes increasingly blurred
with age. And I wish there were more films of the caliber of On Golden Pond being made today.
Great art, like On Golden Pond, can force us to confront sad, yet inevitable aspects of life such as aging and dying,
but it can also allow us to marvel at the incredible wonder of golden sunlight dancing on a sparkling, clear lake...
to savor beautiful music, enjoy laughter, revel in the magnificence of a glorious sunrise, and gladly listen once again
to the invitation of the loons welcoming us back.