This month the film group met to view The Company of Strangers. I will not transcribe the notes since the pieces written by members of the group in 2007 say it all. To access these, click on resources and then on ‘film group 2007’.
There were 8 of us with ages ranging 68 to 93. Four of us had seen the film before and found it as touching as the first time except for one who expressed a very slight feeling that the stills were a bit long. Of the four who saw it for the first time three women expressed unreserved enthusiasm. One woman found it had interesting and attractive features and particularly liked the photos of the past but found that the film as a whole did not hold her attention because of the lack of narrative development and structure. She also pointed out later that it was the woman of faith, Catherine who after the ordeal of walking miles on her arthritic feet managed eventually to get help.
The general themes of the conversations that emerged were :
REALISM AND MAKE BELIEVE: do we think the situation likely. The quality of fairy tale of the film. A feel good film, no conflicts. Would it happen today with mobile phones? What would I do in these circumstances?
VISUAL BEAUTY OF THE CINEMATOGRAPHY AND THE MUSIC. The shots of nature without people.
NATURE : its serene feel in the film. But also hints of threat : the mountain and forest surrounds and the mention of bears.
TIME : its timelessness quality
HAIR : the thinning of hair as a sign of age.
COMPETENCES and TALENTS : were mentioned.
GROUP SOLIDARITY: the individualism of Beth at the beginning by staying on her own in the bus, but she joins the group and surviving together with caring, warmth and respect is the main impression. The characters and their conversations about themselves and their past were talked about. One difference of opinion emerged. Two women thought that the naivety and emotional lability of Cissy was due to her stroke, the others argued that it showed resilience.
DEATH: Its presence embodied by Constance and referred to in conversations. For one woman the expectation was raised that Constance would not leave with the others as she had expressed the wish to die in her childhood environment rather than a home or a hospital. The difference between accepting death when it comes (avoiding interventions) and actively seeking it was touched upon.