19.6.09

Cage Match

Dr. Zhivago vs. Out of Africa (the motion pictures)

First of all, if you haven't seen both of these movies, you should. Although I hate Dr. Zhivago with the red-hot fiery hatred of 10,000 suns, it's an essential watch. I love Out of Africa. Why, you ask, are these two movies in a death match? Well, I'll tell you.

I have a long-standing disagreement with a friend of mine regarding Dr. Zhivago (herein after referred to as DZ for the sake of brevity). She loves it - thinks it's one of the most romantic tragic love stories ever. I think it's drivel - not at all romantic, cloying in spots and maddeningly misogynistic in others, and just plain irritating all the way through.

I mentioned Out of Africa (OA) in another post recently, though, and it made me think. I love that movie. I do. I love Meryl Streep. I love that Isak Dinesen actually made a life for herself in Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. I always cry at the end. Not because Denys is dead (he was a dick), but because her dream is dead and she has no choice but to go back to a life she didn't want. Plus, when she's at the train station with Farah and she tells him, "I want to hear you say my name," I always lose it.

So, my friend and lover of DZ called on the "love story" in OA as being equally sexist and shitty as the one in DZ. This is true - if you go with the conventional definition of "love story." So this cage match is for you, Shelly. A compare and contrast (in four paragraphs or less) that will prove that DZ still sucks and OA is awesome.

DZ's story revovles around Yuri Zhivago and his life. He's a doctor/poet. He's married to Tonya but falls for Lara - the wife of a revolutionary. Lara is, apparently, his muse. He (allegedly) loves both of these women. However, here I have to call bullshit. I realize that Russian literature of the era is fraught with these kinds of stories, but fuck them. This boils down to a dude unwilling to put himself out of his comfy life or make a decision and in the mean time uses and mistreats two women who love him and deserve better.

So, Shelly, I know you're argument is that he didn't have a choice. He was operating under the expectation and pressure of the time. I agree. But it doesn't make it okay. Hell, King Edward VIII gave up being the fucking KING to marry the woman he loved. It could have been done. So there. I win.

Okay, I'll do OA, just to be fair. Brief synopsis: Karen Blixen marries a friend to get out of a miserable life in Demark, goes to Africa to grow coffee and finds herself.

First of all - the real love story in OA is between Karen & AFRICA - not Denys. Yes, Denys is a dickwad. A serious one. He knew she loved him more than he loved her but refused to do the stand-up thing and say, 'Hey, I realize we're in a tricky situation. You want something I can't give you, so I'll be on my way.' No, he tortures her year after fucking year (she tortures herself, too. I KNOW!) unwilling to compromise on any point of his life. But - and it's a big one - the bigger thing was that she got to get out of the oppressive life she had in Denmark. She got to dictate what she would do with herself. Part of that was, I guess, to make herself miserable with a dickwad, but it was her choice. She had the information. She knew he was a dickwad and stayed. Not smart, I grant you, but informed nonetheless.

See? I still win. Dr. Zhivago is crap. Out of Africa is awesome. Accept it. Love it. Call me.

2 comments:

Dirty Kitten said...

HA! Thanks for calling me "Shelly" - at least that way I won't get harassed by my more reasonable friends (the one's who realize how fucking great Zhivago is) for being friends with someone as silly as you.

Dorothy said...

That's all you have? You're lame!