Wednesday, December 28, 2005
The Mousehole Cat
That darn cat!
I gave myself a Christmas present this year in the form of a video (no DVD, apparently) of a children's story called The Mousehole Cat.
The film is based on a book by Antonia Barber and it features fabulous animation and lovely narration by the talented British actress Sian Phillips.
I've seen it about four times now and I cry my eyes out every time. It's amazing how such a short simple story can have such a powerful impact on me, but maybe that's the answer: it's short, it's simple, and it's honest.
Hell, I cry at a lot of movies. That's not news. There are still few scenes from It's A Wonderful Life that still get me and there's The Big Parade, a silent war epic that has some very touching scenes, and then City Lights, my God, City Lights, with its final image, I can flood a whole theater with my tears.
But this particular film has got its claws into me and it won't let go. And I don't want to be released from its magic.
The story takes place in a small English fishing village called "Mousehole" and it's told through the point of view of a mature lady cat, Mowzer, who lives with an old fisherman.
In Mowzer's view, the old fisherman is her pet, and he's very good at feeding her and scratching her behind the ear just the way she likes it. Everything is fine until one year around Christmas when a terrible storm batters the entire coast.
To Mowzer, the huge tempest is a Storm Cat, lashing at the little town with its high winds that serve as claws. While the Storm Cat can't get at the villagers' boats, the villagers can't get out of the harbor to go fishing.
The town starts running out of food and Mowzer's pet sailor decides that since he's old and his children are all grown, he should go out into the storm and try to catch a load of fish for the town--or die trying.
In the scene that always kills me, Mowzer decides that she has no one in her life but the old sailor and that she will join him on his dangerous voyage. (Damn it, I'm crying as I write this! Arrrh, I hate that!)
Sing, Kitty, Sing
The scene is so simple and beautiful I can't help but get teary-eyed. Even when I try to prepare myself and say, ok, here it comes, brace yourself, it doesn't work.
I don't want to say much more about the story, but there's a great scene where Mowzer faces the Storm Cat and begins to sing. The first time I saw the film I thought she'd screech like cats do, but since it's told from the cat's point of view, a woman's beautiful voice comes out of her and fills the air.
I know it sounds crazy, but it works. And it kills me, too. I find myself laughing at how strange it looks and yet crying at how lovely it is.
I tease my sister (the cat lover!) about this scene, claiming there's all kinds of sexual undertones in Mowzer's confrontation with the Storm Cat. But that's just me acting foolish and trying to hide my strong reaction to this movie behind silly jokes.
I called this weeping condition "Mom's Revenge." My mother used to cry at just about every sad scene that came out of the TV--movies, tragic news stories, even commercials.
Whenever some touching scene appeared on the TV, we'd invariably turn toward Mom to see if she was crying. Then we'd needle her, like we'd caught her doing something wrong. The truth is we "caught" her being human.
Now she's gone and I've got the crying bug. I guess she's looking down at me and saying, you see, this is what it's like.
I suppose it's not very "manly" to weep like this, but I make no claims to being a macho knuckle-walker. I like this side of my personality. It makes me feel more alive and the day I stop crying at movies, TV shows, etc. is the day I've lost all traces of my heart.
I watched my video last night while no else was around to see me wail my way through a box of tissues. Next week I promised to bring the tape over to my aunt's place so she, my sister, and I can watch it together. I've already warned them that it's going to get rather damp around me, but I suspect they'll be joining me in the emotional overload.
I've decided that I'm going to use this film in my search for a wife. If a woman can witness me fall to pieces every time I watch this cartoon and not run out the door in disgust, then she's the one to marry.