"The sea was as still as an inland lake; the light trade-wind was gently and steadily breathing from astern; the dark blue sky was studded with the tropical stars; there was no sound but the rippling of the water under the stem; and the sails were spread out, wide and high;—the two lower studding-sails stretching, on each side, far beyond the deck; the topmast studding-sails, like wings to the topsails; the top-gallant studding-sails spreading fearlessly out above them; still higher, the two royal studding-sails, looking like two kites flying from the same string; and, highest of all, the little skysail, the apex of the pyramid, seeming actually to touch the stars, and to be out of reach of human hand. So quiet, too, was the sea, and so steady the breeze, that if these sails had been sculptured marble, they could not have been more motionless. Not a ripple upon the surface of the canvas; not even a quivering of the extreme edges of the sail—so perfectly were they distended by the breeze. I was so lost in the sight, that I forgot the presence of the man who came out with me, until he said, (for he, too, rough old man-of-war’s-man as he was, had been gazing at the show,) half to himself, still looking at the marble sails—“How quietly they do their work!”
“The Southern Cross we saw no more after the first night; the Magellan Clouds settled lower and lower in the horizon; and so great was our change of latitude each succeeding night, that we sank some constellation in the south, and raised another in the northern horizon.”
~ Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Two Years Before the Mast. Chapter 33 “Cracking on—Progress Homeward—A Pleasant Sunday—A Fine Sight—By-Play”
“The summer my father was depressed, the face of our Lord Jesus Christ appeared on a tortilla at the Morning Glory Café.”
~ Off the Map. Opening Line. Directed by Campbell Scott – www.offthemapmovie.com
We spent Tuesday evening at the theater viewing a special advanced screening for which Larry (my husband) had received free passes. We had no clue what the movie was about, but figured, free movie, Tuesday night…pop a tape in the VCR for American Idol (still waiting on our DVR.) …and let’s go!
And am I glad we did.
Off the Map is the story of an 11 year old girl and the summer of 1974 at her home in the New Mexico Desert. Her father is depressed, and doesn’t know why. Her mother tends the garden in the nude, and the tax man comes to audit them for not filing taxes for several years, and decides to stay and become a painter.
The cinematography is breathtaking. The story is exquisite. You find yourself laughing, and then wanting to cry at the same time. There are no mind-blowing special effects, none of the carefully orchestrated product endorsement you normally see in today’s films, and no “agenda” as my daughter, Sarah, so succinctly put it.
Joan Allen and Sam Elliot are brilliant, but the real star is Valentina De Angelis, the young girl. One of my favorite threads is the mother sitting by the kerosene lamp, and later, on the boat, reading from the classic 19th century novel Two Years Before the Mast. I did request this one from the library this morning.
I left the theater last night wishing the movie Off the Map had been based on a book; one that I could check out from the library and read at my leisure. Sadly, after googling, I found that there is only a screenplay, and that all but unavailable. So I will have to be content with returning, once again to the theater, (buying my ticket this time.) and looking forward to the day Off the Map is released on DVD.
If you get the chance to see this independent film by Campbell Scott, don’t let the mixed reviews fool you. It will be well worth your time and money.
So, go read (or watch) something profound!
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Wednesday, April 13, 2005