Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Mr. Magorium


I've heard of this movie, but never seen it. Several times now, though, I've seen the following quote and it makes me want to look this one up.

Mr. Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written "He dies." That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words.

Having no context for this quote within the movie, I'm confused. First of all, "He dies" is a stage direction, and it's the exact same stage direction everybody gets when they die. So there's no significance in that. As for "No brilliant final words", you've chosen a senile old man clutching his daughter's dead body, what exactly did you expect? Go see Hamlet for deep thoughts.

But then Mr. M goes and says exactly what I'm saying when he points out "because of the life we saw prior to those words." Well, yeah, exactly. So....what exactly was your point about the "He dies" thing and the no brilliant last words? Did you want brilliant last words, or did you want a life prior?

So, two questions. First, somebody feel free to explain this quote to me in context. Second, is this a movie that my kids would like? What is it rated, and if it's not G, why (i.e. is it violent, language, etc...)? If it's a kids movie with real people that happens to have Shakespeare in it, I'm all over it.

2 comments:

Stacie said...

I'd definitely add this to your queue as well; it's a brilliant movie. It's one of those kids movie that also has resonance for adults (kind of like Pixar with the adult humor) and it is indeed live action. I adore Dustin Hoffman, but don't care much for Natalie Portman, so it was almost overlooked.

Mr. Magorium is trying to make a point with that quote; I don't whether the writers didn't realize what they'd done (the irony) or just didn't expect the average audience to notice, but it's meant well.

[SPOILERS, but quote context]
Mr. M has decided that he's ready to die and is passing the store over to Portman, who is very reluctant to let him go and wants him to stay there and run the magical toy store. Magorium wants to just be able to walk out of life, disappear when no one's looking.
It's hard to explain without giving too much away, but it's a lot of fun.

wolferiver said...

It's a sweet little movie, but I wouldn't call it brilliant. (Sorry to disagree with the comment above. Clearly, our mileage varies.) It has a message which it delivers entertainingly and without preaching -- which makes it better than most of the big-budget tent-pole movies that get cranked out every year.

The comment above is exactly correct about the quote and its context in the movie. Interestingly, this movie examines death in a way that makes it approachable for little kids. It's not maudlin, and the sadness they see when the "life" goes out of the toys when Mr. M dies is leavened when they see that in the end life returns and that this is all part of a normal cycle.

It is also one of those movies for children that an adult can also sit through without being bored. Doing so will foster a conversation between the adults and the children -- which is always a good thing.