Eighteenyears had a post today about Steel Magnolias. She had watched it again recently and was surprised that her perceptions of the film had changed. The famous scene where Shelby (Julia Roberts), pregnant with a baby (even though doing so greatly jeopardizes her health) tells her mother that she would “…rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special” reverberates in a different way for her. She particularly notices that the supporting characters don’t really seem to enjoy parenthood.
“What’s interesting is that the older characters seem to present the idea that having children might not be all that special. Ousier (pronounced Weezer and played by Shirley Maclaine) says she’s had the ‘three most ungrateful children’ in the world. Truvy (played by Dolly Parton) says her boy is no-good, and scoffs when M’Lynn tells her that he ‘turned out fine, just a bit scary is all.’ We think that Clairee has kids, but they don’t seem to be around much.”
The kids both took a nap at the same time today, which !!! and I had a ton of laundry to fold, so I decided to watch Steel Magnolias again. I watch it every year, and it’s my go-to tearjerker. The first time I ever saw it I was 16, miserable with the chicken pox and some friends brought it over so we could watch it together. It made a big impression on me.
Shelby is a character who I think is pretty relatable to most women. I love her totally over-the-top wedding scene. (All that crazy pink fabric! Oh, the 80s…). She is strong and independent and is a working woman with a job she loves. But what she wants most is a child. Having a family is so difficult for her to achieve that she *****SPOILER!!!****** dies in the attempt.
Shelby’s blessed with everything a woman would want: beauty, kindness, intelligence and a handsome lawyer who loves her. But, she doesn’t have her health. When I was going through infertility treatments, I understood so well Shelby’s impassioned argument about why she was willing to risk everything to have a child. That’s how I felt, too. I wept during that scene Eighteenyears references so hard in 2006. The 30 minutes, YES!
Now I find myself sympathizing more with M’Lynn, Shelby’s mother. Poor Shelby’s mother! She’s just trying to keep Shelby around. What an impossible situation to be faced with: her daughter doing what she needs to do to make her biggest dream come true, but her mother watching that dream take her child away.
The scene that made me cry today was this one: M’Lynn drives to pick up her grandson right after she watches his mother take her last breath. She’s weeping but then her grandson smiles and toddles towards her and she lifts him up and the complexity and sadness of her emotions are so beautifully expressed as she smiles with tracks of tears streaming down her face.
“Life goes on,” M’Lynn eventually says.
Are there any movies you watch repeatedly, what are they and have your views on the movie changed over the years?