The Hours

Finally watched The Hours with Gui and Matthew Friday evening. I’ve been reluctant to see it because some friends had complained it being too long, but others loved it.

It was surprisingly lucid and smooth. The complicated stories of three women from three generations were masterfully waved together, and three seemingly separate plots tied nicely together at the end.

I love this kind of ending. A good ending makes a good story.

A few things that Gui pointed it out made the movie seemed even more interesting than if I had watched it alone.

-The symmetry of two fictional suicides.
Virginia Wolf let the woman live in her book, and killed the poet, the visionary. Meanwhile, the poet in real life, who did commit suicide just like in Virgina’s book, chose to kill the woman(the character based on his mother) in his book. This little detail provided a kind of balance to the entire story, even though it made the movie a little eerie.

-The conversation between Virginia and her niece on death
“Where do we go when we die?” “We go back to where we came from.”
“That’s an interesting explanation.” Gui commented.

– The conversation between Virginia and her husband
“Why must someone die in your book? Why can’t they all live?”
“Death will make the living value life more.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Gui said, “We value life just the same without death.”
“Maybe not.” I countered, “Death defines life, provides limitations. The limitation gives life meaning. Otherwise, if we all live to the eternity, what’s the point?”
“I’d be happy to take eternity.” Gui laughed..
“Hmmm. I’d take eternity provided I still have the choice to end it.” I offered. “I need to have that choice.”

Yes, that’s probably the main point we took away from The Hours. “It is about choices.” The characters, either fictional or not, they chose to live or they chose to die. It is their choices. That’s why this movie is not as depressing as I had feared. Its suicides didn’t reduce the meaning of life, it adds more weight and dignity to it. Like Lara Brown said at the end, she chose to live.

Whenever the discussion of choice comes up, I always think of Steinback’s East of Eden. The old Chinese housekeeper Lee’s words on that sentence from the Bible.

“The King James version says this: thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”

“Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible — It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order.”

So Lee got interested and started learning Hebrew so he could read the original version of this line. After two years of study, he found out, it was actually:

“Thou mayest.”
…there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with that will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”

2 thoughts on “The Hours

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  2. No one is setting such a rule: that life must be meaningful. It is up to you and it is up to me. Lots of people could live a perfectly content life without ever worrying about the meaning part. That’s the beauty of being human. it is just our choice. 🙂

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