Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekend Movie Feature - The Snow Walker

This film is a sweetly elegiac meander through the furthest northern latitudes, in a landscape that seems barren but comes alive as a character in its own right, an elemental force with the treacherous weather and an immensely vast, humbling, mercurial sky.  The two protagonists find themselves unlikely allies lost together in a struggle to survive with barely any residue of modern inventions - a downed aviator wounded by bitter memories of war, and a young native woman stricken with tuberculosis who has left her people in a blizzard to die in economical solitude...but found to her amused surprise she wasn't quite ready to go.  It is a study in fortitude, loneliness, and divine beauty, which is worth watching just for the powerful recitation by James Cromwell of the famous poem by John Gillespie McGee.  He wrote it just months before he died at age 19, when his Spitfire crashed on December 11, 1941, over Lincolnshire.  Although his poem instantly became a totemic invocation for military air forces and astronauts, to my mind, it speaks to the recklessly joyful, ambitious, and hubristic Icarus in us all who would fly free.

High Flight

- by John Gillespie McGee

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor eer eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.


  1. Gail, my wife and I watched it last night per your suggestion. We were impressed and thoroughly enjoyed. Your wonderfully articulated description was....well, perfect. Thanks.

  2. M.O. and wife - I am glad you liked it!


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