Monday, August 9, 2010

Age Of Innocence, Revisited

A friend recently gave me a dvd of the film. I've watched this Scorcese film long before. I have forgotten the story line. Trying to recall it, I keep on confusing this with Dangerous Liaisons. My dear friend told me to enjoy the film again, because he continues to be so enamored with it.

It is a beautiful film. Exquisitely produced. A true audal and visual delight as the audience is transplanted to turn-of-the-century New York. The costumes, the production design are impeccable. I drool over the numerous classical art on display on the walls of New York high society. And with a beautiful, haunting orchestral soundtrack. No wonder my friend loves the film.

The story is quite simple. In the pretentious world of high society, with strict moral codes and ethics, a woman tries to go against the grain. She is labeled and effectively marginalized. But not before capturing the heart of a young man, already betrothed to another, of the same class and breeding. Their passion for each other, severely tempered by the circumstances. They steal a few moments just to be together. No, there is no sex. Yet the few instances when he manages to touch and caress her, both of them fully clothed is even more erotic.

Never consumated, their passion eventually gives way to rationality, to convention. And they grow old apart. Though a final scene was almost a meeting many years after, he turns away from the chance to see her again, resigned to their fate yet truly loving as one could ever love.

Now back to earth, I'm wondering if that could happen to me. Could I actually fall in love so deeply with someone without having even sex at all? And should that chance finally happen. Should that opportunity to finally express the passion sexually happen, would there be a danger of 'sexual failure' because of incompatibility? And with that, would love suddenly dissipate, a mirage really, for all that time?

how important is sexual compatibility really? Isn't love so true the only real aphrodisiac that transcends sexual compatibility? Isn't this preoccupation with being sexually compatible simply another manifestation of our compartmentalized lives, the heart and the loins in different drawers, each independently satisfied? And if this popular culture was otherwise, just like in decades past, would we still put as much emphasis on being 'compatible in bed'?

could you fall in love without the benefit of sex? or is sexual compatibility one of the metrics in measuring whether one is 'in love' or not?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Lance said...

Hey CC, read the book if you have the time. It's so much better. This is one of my two faves from Edith Wharton. The House of Mirth is the other one. I love the irony of Countess Olenska's character. For someone society labeled as without morals, she was in fact the one who steadfastly discouraged the affair although Newland Archer would have left his betrothed for her. In the end, their love remained pure, innocent and transcendent.

J said...

Love that film, cc! Newland ka o si Olenska, or baka naman si May? :)

rudeboy said...

Newland Archer and Countess Olenska never physically consummated their affair because of their respective social duties and the moral codes of the time, that much is true. Having no other choice, Archer elevated this unconsummated passion into a "true" love, distilling everything that was beautiful in it into a "pure" form. I imagine he chose to preserve the "purity" of his memories in the end rather than meet Olenska again face-to-face and risk sullying his "ideal" with the "real."

One wonders if their passion - had they consummated it - would've withstood the onus of the societal and moral pressures of that titular "age of innocence." They would've both become social outcasts and would've had only their "love" to sustain them.

But we'll never know. And neither did they.

I think it's the same for us, isn't it? We tend to idealize the ones that got away, the ones we couldn't have, and enshrine them in some rarefied place in our hearts and memories.

Romantic, yes. But it'd also be like pining away for the idea of a great love, and not the great love itself.

Mark said...

i truly enjoyed this post. nice one cc. :) and no, i don't think sexual compatibility is a requirement in love. it may be for a relationship, but that's another thing altogether i think. love is just is.