Grief and Guilt -The Straight Story and Manchester by the Sea

Again a brief post that does not deal with the representation of old women in feature films but since I wrote about The Straight Story (1999) 5 years ago  I will consider Manchester by the Sea (2016).

I find I have no time at the moment to analyse these two remarkable films and compare and contrast them. I remarked on my blog about Chronic how the back story of the main protagonist is redundant, irrelevant and manipulative. The two films above demonstrate how good directors, Lynch and Lonergan use the same back story to produce great films.

In both we have a man who lives with the grief and guilt of having been responsible for the death of own grandchild /children.  In SS the man is old and terminally ill, disabled by age and lives with his daughter whose children are in care. In MBS the man is young estranged from his wife. In both films the natural environment beautifully filmed is part of the story. In both films the reason for the tragedy is the abuse of alcohol  by the grandfather (and or his brother  – here there is ambiguity in the Lynch film)  and in  MBS alcohol and drugs. In both films children die in a burning house and this is of extreme visual emotional power.

What interest me is the differences between the two films:

1-  The way the memory of the burning house is expressed in the two films:  Lynch deals with the loss of control and powerlessness that the grandfather felt, while flashbacks take us to the father looking at the actual event in MBS.  They deserve detailed analysis.

2- The differences between the young man and the old man of lived grief and guilt about a past tragic event.

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
This entry was posted in Ageing, Film Analysis, grief, guilt and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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