The set-up is simple. Four college friends some 15 years later get together for a camping trip in the wilds of northern Sweden and become lost in an ancient forest. The fears and difficulties in being lost widen cracks in the men’s friendships, those cracks making them even more susceptible to the rigors of being lost. And there seems to be Something out there in the dark.
Here I will not address that Something or even the question of whether it is real or a manifestation of their fears. My focus is on the matter of being lost, possibly hopelessly lost, in the woods.
Above left: the author with his grandmother, 1939. Right, the author in a ditch, 1941. Old Sawyerville is glimpsed in backgrounds.
Let’s start with what may be my earliest childhood memory. At home. Where else?
I am standing on the steps leading down from our screened-in back porch to the back yard. There is a bannister on the right side as you face the house. It is covered with clematis in white bloom. I am holding on to the bannister to keep from falling. A train whistle blows, and I look slightly to the east across the highway and see the train on the tracks beyond the few houses and buildings and trees on the far side of the road. The train is passing from east to west. It is pulled by an old-fashioned locomotive and smoke is trailing behind. Colors are vivid. Everything is somehow separate but yet part of a larger picture. Perspective is flat. Later on when I see paintings by Grandma Moses, I know that is what it looked like. I recall strong feelings of astonishment and joy.
[Tom Miller (Tom Canford’s real name) was a unit publicist working on movies from 1970 until 1987. So what the heck is a unit publicist? In this essay Tom describes what such a person does, or at least back then. The work was already changing at the time of his retirement and is much different now in the time of the internet and YouTube and DVD extra features.]
WHAT’S A NICE PERSON LIKE YOU DOING IN A JOB LIKE THIS?
Robert Mitchum and Rita Hayworth!
“I met her first when she was thirteen,” says Mitchum. You wonder at such a statement.
BOOKS RELATING TO HALE COUNTY, ALABAMA.
This is not a comprehensive bibliography, more of a quick-and-dirty look at what is available. There are many more books available that concern William Christenberry, James Agee and Walker Evans, Moundville Archeological Park and the Rural Studio and I have selected only a few as examples.
Don’t laugh too quickly. A case can be made.
Last Sunday night I finished watching “The Qatsi Trilogy,” thanks to Criterion’s lovely set. “Koyaanisqatsi,” 1982, “Powaqqatsi” 1988, and “Naqoyqatsi,” 2002. Qatsi is a Hopi word meaning “life,” but richer in, meaning that the English. The compound words used for the titles are defined at the end of each movie, and ideally one should see the movies without those definitions in mind. One should simply watch and listen, for the music by Phillip Glass is equal partner with the images put before one by director Godfrey Reggio and his cinematographers and editors. Reggio desires for his viewers to watch and listen and find their own meanings in what is presented.
To the east of my family’s four acres in Sawyerville was the enormous yard of Umbria Plantation with its old raised cottage sitting way back from the highway.
The front gate to Umbria Plantation was about a quarter of a mile east of the house where we lived, where I live now. You’d go through the brick gates and the driveway would dip down before rising to the house set back behind two enormous magnolias. Where the driveway began to curve to the left you would look straight up the walk to the wide steps leading from the ground up to the wide veranda that ran across the front of the house.