Splendor in the Grass

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What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

~ William Wordsworth

Ever since watching many years ago a film called “Splendor in the Grass” with the stunning Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, this poem has stuck in my mind. The film caused a huge impact in my life. Because, really, you can’t make a 14-year-old girl watch a thing like that. Or do. Whatever.

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In the film, Deanie (Natalie Wood) and Bud (Warren Beatty) are in love. It’s that kind of crazy consuming non-healthy love that all teenagers experience in their lives. Well, except it’s not. A series of unexpected (or expected, really) situations make the lovers… part different ways. I’m sure you know the story: the parents give bad advice, the kids feel preassured, etc etc.

But what really striked me as scandalous was that they were talking about… SEX! TEEN SEX! Oh my, yeah, that was scandalous for me when I was 14. Why couldn’t Deanie make love with Bud if they were in love? Deanie’s mother told her that “boys don’t marry that kind of girls”. Sex was banished, a taboo. But… hey, the boy could find himself an “easy” girl to “relieve” himself. But… but… WHY? My question was: “WHY can’t girls do that too?? Isn’t it unfair? WHY boys can fool around and girls can’t?” Even better, Deanie’s mother, Mrs. Loomis tells her:

“A woman doesn’t enjoy those things the way a man does. She just lets her husband come near her in order to have children.”

Wow. Do we?

In the film, there is a girl that has that reputation (Juanita). She fools around, and boys chase her when they need it. And I though (the 14-year-old me): how does that girl feel like? does she feel powerful? mature? does she know that she’s being waaaaay advanced for her time? Also, did she get to marry a good guy or rented a flat in a big city like Chicago or New York and lived her own life proud and single?

The film is set in 1928, so obviously, things were a bit different, but today I watched it again. A 21-year-old me thought “wow, things are not that different nowadays”. When girls fool around and have different lovers, they’re considered sluts. When boys do that, they’re admired and labelled as a Don Juan. Really?

The world hasn’t changed that much, after all…

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Splendor in the Grass (1961) – you should see it, really.

Until next time, I’ll be watching, thinking, telling.