Sunday, February 6, 2011

Death, Be Not Proud - Emma Thompson in Wit (2001)

I've watched this movie twice in the last 24 hours. It's not funny and sweet, like I prefer my entertainment most of the time. Nor even because recent events in my life have brought home to me, again, just how fragile the people in our lives are.

But, because Emma Thompson and HBO have crafted in "Wit" (based on the Margaret Edson play), an unsparing, wrenching, true, and ultimately beautiful portrait of death and dying. I couldn't look away.

The poetry of John Donne is literally (hah!) another character in the movie. In the last scene, showed here, Emma's character recites again "Death, be not proud" in the way I will always from here on hear it in my head.

Death be not proud though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
Thou’art slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better than thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die.
by John Donne (1572-1631)

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