lundi 12 mars 2012

Triumph over Tragedy in Remember Me - New Thoughts on the Ending A second year anniversary post

~jessegirl~ March 12, 2012

 





Un article spécial pour le deuxième Anniversaire de Remember Me 


 jessegirl, who is the author of many articles about Remember Me on my sister site, offers us her new article which she wrote especially for the second anniversary of the film. 
 jessegirl, auteur de nombreux articles sur Remember me sur mon site soeur, me propose un nouvel article, rédigé spécialement pour le second anniversaire du film. Je n'ai pas le temps disponible pour le traduire en français, mais souhaite le partager quand même.


There is an almost trite expression about the death of a loved one: If you love someone, let him go. Let her go. Let them go. But this is hard to do even when the death is not a tragedy. How do you get past a tragedy? 9/11? How do you let the loved one go after that? The impulse is to hold on tightly, and letting them go seems almost like betrayal. I would like to reflect on how this pertains to Tyler’s death in Remember Me.

Yes, I know some people hated or disliked this film. I know some people enjoyed it but that’s all. And some people loved it and sang its praises. Of the latter group, some people were so struck by it that they watched it repeatedly. I will, here, talk about that last group, because within that group some people cannot watch the ending and some feel compelled to do so. Why? What is the reason?


Pain. It’s everywhere. We avoid it. It comes anyway. At some point, we have to deal with it. There isn’t necessarily a right way or a wrong way; there are probably better ways and worse ways, but it is a very individual thing. Sometimes avoiding it just sends it to our subconscious and it will pop up at an inopportune moment. Sometimes facing it directly can be too intense and we cannot handle it. So we might take baby steps forward.

Response to
Remember Me’s ending has been polarizing all along but I am not talking about that issue. However, I find it fascinating how those who love the film deal with the ending on subsequent viewings. They find the ending a powerful one which causes them much pain. Whether it is dealing with the lead character’s death, dealing with the grief for a friend/relative who died during the attacks, dealing with the horror of 9/11 on a larger scale, or dealing with unrelated personal losses, people respond differently. When watching the film again, some people cannot finish, cannot go to the end. Others have to finish, feel compelled.

Cannot Watch the Ending-

Why does one group, on repeat viewings, not finish the film? Generally, these people avoid the pain it poses and are not able to continue past a certain point. That is their way of dealing with the grief. To be clear, people in this group understand the ending and feel it is right for the film; they think the ending is respectful and know Fetters wrote the story using 9/11 as his starting point. First of all, these people also had to see the film again.

My fellow blogger, from: http://regardssurlefilmrememberme.blogspot.com/ had this to say.



“Repeated viewings are a way of escaping from Tyler’s death, and from death itself. The story rolls back to the beginning, you start from scratch again…somehow you receive the power to resuscitate Tyler, pretending he didn’t die for real.” And later: “-and it’s like a miracle, life starts over again…And yet, the paradox is that repeated viewings are also a way of understanding that death is forever. For a time, you try to escape from the truth, going back and back and back again to see the film, but, as the ending grows nearer, the idea of death slowly begins to sink in.” She theorized astutely. [Thanks for that fine analysis, Kim.]

Some time ago, I wrote about multiple viewings. It was a very interesting phenomenon, given the serious subject matter, and it happened right away, right after the film’s release. It was all very personal.


So, if you want to see Tyler alive again, you watch the film again. But if you watch to the end, he dies again, and where are you? You really cannot escape unless you press ‘stop’.
Remember Me has a power to wake up pain in a very unsettling way.” [Kim] Perhaps it taps into a very unconscious source which we all recognize but cannot express, cannot name. It is scarier than any horror movie. Tyler is the incarnation of all losses at that point.

My friend Kim has told me that it becomes unbearable for her at different points, but sometimes it is when they are at the beach house (and there is so much that follows that). She mentions the music, “when the melancholy music starts…”. (She knows the film so well she can see all which will come without seeing it.) For some it is when he’s in the elevator. For me, anxiety begins when Tyler picks up Caroline from school when summer vacation begins. There is this impulse to grab him, to pull him back to safety, and to pinpoint the moment when escape has become impossible.


Kim adds that a friend cannot watch the end of Titanic. I have difficulty watching entire films, excellent movies, like Sophie’s Choice and Schindler’s List, because the horror is too overwhelming, so I understand.

Must Watch the Ending


And then there are those who absolutely must see it through to the end. Why?

A couple of them generously offered their thoughts to me.
“I almost feel like it’s my duty to see it through, to stand and bear witness to all the pain, to all the loss, and to all the love and all the hope. Tyler will come with me in my heart of hearts, where I can cherish him and protect him forever.”
[Jazz_Girl] and-

“No, much as it tears at my heart, I cannot bail on him either. I have to stay with him to the end and symbolically, [for] everyone else on that day too.”
[nikola6]

Stay with him. I, too, have felt that I could not abandon him, that I could not leave him in that office. In a way, it is like a vigil. I am present for him. And I think this is of utmost importance. I want to see the resolution. I want to hear the music segue from tragic to triumphant. Once the ‘Morning Montage’ has started, the discomfort begins. For me, after that, I have to see it through to the end of ‘I Know You Can Hear Me’, otherwise the catharsis doesn’t have a chance. That last piece of music walks us through the emotional journey. For me, it’s a kind of tribute, a kind of affirmation. It is necessary and yet it doesn’t seem like a burden.



Marcelo Zarvos’ wonderful score makes me feel the triumph of Tyler’s spirit, his indelible mark. It is Tyler’s hope and promise. Yes, he is only on the cusp of laughter when he dies, yes his full potential goes unrealized, and yes, it is very tragic. That will remain so. But his promise remains.

Seeing it through takes you places you couldn’t get to unless you finished it. It’s like he needs to show us the rest. We have to hear him say, from beyond, the words he says to Michael, and which apply to all. We have to see him finish his journey to serenity, sit in his father’s chair, and smile like that.

 

We have to see his loved ones go on and see how their lives have changed because of him, that his fingerprints never faded from the lives he touched. That is what this whole film has been building up to. It is only in the last few minutes that the triumph comes, the triumph of the human spirit over the tragedy. The tragedy is always there, but the triumph envelopes it with healing power.


Triumphs

Tyler’s victories are all personal. He has committed to a romantic relationship. He has gotten his father to listen. He has decided to live. He has forgiven Michael. He has forgiven himself. He has come to an acceptance. He is not a martyr, nor a hero, but he has won significant internal battles.



I think if you stop before the tragedy, then everything leading up to it loses something. We want him to cheat death by avoiding the ending, but in not staying the course we only cheat Tyler of his victory.

While he is in his father’s office I do not even want to grab him away anymore because what he does there—before—is too important to forego. It seems small in the grand scale of things perhaps, to witness that serenity on his face, but it is the stuff of everything meaningful. And it is at that point that I know Tyler has taught us what he knows about grieving, which will come in handy when we grieve him.


What did he teach us about grieving? Well, he did not try to escape its gauntlet. He probed and tested in both reckless and reflective ways, searching for answers. He could not let it go, not until he knew, knew in a fundamental way. And when he was certain, he could accept and be content. So, despite the sharp poignancy of him dying at just the moment of emotional triumph, Tyler has shown us the way.


I have come to the point where, for me, the victory of the spirit displayed in Remember Me has overcome the tragedy. This is a hard-won stance. For a long time, it was always about “the breath-taking beauty of his promise taken away just when it was a bud, ready to blossom”. It was about what was taken away, what was lost. About what haunted. About how hard it was to bear the role of survivor. It was about not being able to deal with death. It was all about the tragedy. It took me a long time to get through that to the triumph. But triumph is meaningless without the struggle it took to get there. It’s a big word, and should not be used lightly.



But now, I can focus on the victory. I can enjoy his contentment, his smiles and so much of that occurs in his last scene, in the office. The victory of his accomplishments and the promise of his acceptance are really beautiful to watch in this final scene. Even as he stands by the window. Even so. Because, despite the horror of the end coming to him, he has won. Tyler has won. And instead of it being about what we have lost in him, it is about what we have been given and about what he has gained. The focus has changed.

Slowly the focus shifted from the pain and loss and a sharp feeling of the tragic nature of it all, to enjoyment of his accomplishments and a sense of his triumph. Don’t get me wrong. The pain is still there, made more poignant coming, as it does, hard on the heels of Tyler’s success. This is the third response. It is beyond ‘staying with him’.

Love and Grief: Holding Tight, then Letting Go

I have looked at the structure of Remember Me many times in different ways. There is the framing, the bookending, the symbolism, the circularity. I think it is ironic that the essence of Tyler’s journey becomes our own. We leave him and then start again. Now when he makes his journey through grief, it has become our own too. He gets out of the quagmire of grief and then his death sends us into that same quicksand. We watch his development, his story, as if it is only his, not ours. But then his endpoint thrusts us back to his beginning, or the circumstances of his beginning.


I am coming to believe that the most shocking and haunting thing is not 9/11 specifically. It is that we have been drawn in beyond empathy. We have been put in Tyler’s own situation of grief. It does become our own. So, at the end of his journey, we are forced to start our own and come again to his beginning, grappling with his grief. It comes full circle.



At first, Tyler holds tightly to memories and issues concerning Michael. But at the end, Tyler sets his brother free. He lets him go. Do we not, in mourning, clutch the lost loved one desperately? We must, until we have worked through the pain, as Tyler does. And then, if we are successful, we can let go. Not until after a lot of hard internal work, like Tyler does, can we accomplish this.

When you watch the ending of
Remember Me, you can go beyond the pain, beyond the vigil even, to a really brave act. You can feel his triumphant spirit, and then you can let him go. Tyler set Michael’s spirit free. You can now set Tyler’s spirit free, so that it can soar. It is no longer about your pain, your grief. It is what comes beyond tragedy. The tragedy remains but you focus on Tyler’s triumph. What did Michael teach Tyler? What has your lost loved one taught you? Because of the structure of the film, Tyler has taught us that healing is possible.

Letting go is now not a betrayal; it sets the loved one’s spirit free.

On this second anniversary of the release of this fine film, I have been pondering these things.



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