I watched Wes Andersen’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” with my seven-year old grand-niece on Saturday night.
To say I loved this movie is to understate its charms as they are limitless where as my love sometimes get distracted by IPADS and cameras n’ things.
At the end of the movie (which is a liberal not literal adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book) the mid-life crisis of The Fantastic Mr. Fox is successfully resolved but not before putting his whole community’s survival in environmental jeopardy (feel free to look at the headlines for relevance of theme), he and his buddy Mole drove by an open area where a wolf was on a rock. The Fantastic Mr. Fox has a phobia about wolves, just plain ‘scared of them” he tells Mole in the beginning of the movie and if anyone mentions “wolf” or “wolves” he yells “to quit the wolf talk, will ya?”
Mole, his sidekick, whose eyes go into pinwheels when he doesn’t understand what is being asked of him (which is most of the time) answers that his phobia is lightning just before the two of them get lit up by an electric security fence as they are stealing chickens.
The wisdom of this movie about fear fightin’ kills me. Wrapped in old-time stop motion animation (think Faye Ray’s “King Kong”) the look and substance of this movie makes 3-D look like all sizzle and no steak.
Anyhoo, the wolf is on the rock looking out, standing tall and arched. The Fantastic Mr. Fox stops the motorcycle and calls out the equivalent of small talk, wild animal style: “How’s the weather?”
The wolf just looks. Quizzically looking, taking in this request for socialization.
Mr. Fox (who is on two legs that look like stilts but have hooves for feet and wears pants with a hole for his tail which by the end of movie has been chopped off in a fight and worn as a tie by his adversary– but I go on and on, don’t I?) raises his paw/arm straight up in the air, fist clenched, sign of we are the wild world solidarity and waits for the wolf to respond.
After a long pause and more wolf quizzical looks, the wolf raises his paw and holds it straight up, holds it there a beat or two, and then, moves off the rock back into the wider landscape.
I gulped. My grand-niece and I looked at one another.
We both said simultaneously, “That’s my favorite part.”
So, when I asked her the next day to stand in front of the big American flag in Boston, she did–and just before I clicked the shutter (totally unprompted)- her arm shot up, fist clenched.
I gulped again.
On this day where we remember the presence of others in our shared national and personal life, bedeviled along the way by private and public fears, I can’t think of a better image nor a better movie. Rent it– buy it even better. Giving one to a friend, better still.
©Pat Coakley 2010
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