Monday, October 4, 2010

Let's Play the Glad Game

Wow, what a blah weekend I had.  I did not enjoy Friday very much, for reasons I don't really understand.  I think its because possibly I wanted to have plans and didn't, plus I knew I was going to lose my Saturday evening at the dance.  I think I just felt like I didn't have the 'me' time that I I had to plan for the block periods and didn't really do it how I meant to...but I did manage to do it in my own way.  I know what I'm going to do now, but since its my first time with block I'm not sure if I'll do it well.  I guess I can only get through the day and see how it all goes.  I'm sure it will be fine...but I tend to worry the first time through things.  However, I'm also glad about this week because there's a new Blu-ray coming out tomorrow that I can afford and its our last 5 day school week for a while.  I guess I'm playing the Glad Game, which is a great little game to play when one feels 'blah'.  I know, its sounds a little corny and gay, but sometimes you really need to work to be positive...which is why I've chosen to look at a classic film that's often derided as being sappy or overly-optimistic.  Lets go back in time to when Walt Disney still was running the Disney company and watch Pollyanna.

The town of Harrington, a New England village, has existed for a long time without much change.  The people are all stern minded and keep mainly to themselves while also trying to keep Polly Harrington, the richest woman in town and pretty much the owner of the town, happy.  However, all this changes when Pollyanna Whittier comes to town.  Pollyanna's mother was Aunt Polly's sister and both she and her minister husband have died leaving Pollyanna an orphan, so Aunt Polly takes her in.  Aunt Polly seems to care about Pollyanna, but her cold exterior and strict rules distance her from her young niece.  Pollyanna doesn't let it phase her however because she has 'the Glad Game'.  Basically, she turns negatives to positives by looking at how she can be glad about a particular situation.  The town scoffs at this optimism, because to them there is little to be glad about with a dictator as the head of town, a preacher who teaches fire and brimstone, and several citizens who are downright grumpy.  However, one by one Pollyanna worms her way into the hearts of every citizen in town and they soon come to find that she is perhaps the best thing that has ever happened to their little town.

Ok, I know it sounds like sentimental pap and perhaps it is...but this movie always puts me in a grand mood because of the way that that Pollyanna manages to find the one thing that reaches each person and changed their outlook on life.  Its not nearly that easy to change a person's attitude, but sometimes saying the right thing really can help a person through a bad patch.  Also, the performances from the supporting adult cast (which includes Jane Wyman, Agnes Moorehead, and Karl Malden to name a few) are so believable and wonderful that it makes the whole brew work.  Special note should be given to Hayley Mills in her breakout role.  She plays Pollyanna with a genuine sincerity and sweetness that its not surprising that she won a special Oscar for the role.  She has a special quality that connected with audiences at that time and still manages to do so today...otherwise the film would not endure as a classic of family cinema.  Sure, its a bit on the sappy side and there's a reason we refer to people as 'pollyannas' with disdain...but I think that if you examine the movie from that standpoint that you are being as shortsighted as the film's townspeople.  What exactly is wrong with being optimistic and trying to be glad?  Misguided naivete I can certainly frown on, but genuine optimism and sincerity in a world full of cynicism and callousness?  That's something I can definitely get behind.

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