Friday, November 23, 2007

I Walk the Line

We received the DVD I Walk the Line two years ago for Christmas. Someone in the family borrowed it and it went from one set of children to another for a while. We finally got it back a couple of months ago and finally sat down to watch it last night.

I have to confess, I wasn't impressed. Oh, the music was great. The fact that Joaquin Phoenix and Resse Witherspoon did their own music was quite impressive. The views of other singers of that era was also impressive. Reading the credits afterwards and realizing that Waylon Jenning's son played Waylon was cool.

But I was unimpressed with the story line. I'm sure it's true (most of the notes I've read about it indicate it was true, but possibly unfair to his first wife), but it was depressing to me. It turns out that the man who wrote the song "I Walk the Line" simply didn't.

While Johnny's first wife was at home raising his four daughters (including singer Roseanne Cash), Johnny was out on the road not walking the line. Instead he met and fell in love with his second wife, June Carter. The movie also showed him somewhat involved with two other women.

To me the central part of the movie will forever be Johnny's "Cheatin Heart" (Hank Williams song). Why is it that a man should leave the wife of his youth to seek out a new one? Why is it that a man can't stick with the woman who stuck by him?

I also didn't like the issue with Johnny's father. Throughout the movie Johnny sought his father's approval. He never got it (the scene at the end implies that may have changed). Instead, his father always saw the cloud instead of the silver lining. Whenever Johnny did something good, someone else did something better.

But why should an adult Johnny blame his father for his problems? Why not accept the blame himself? At what point to we become our own person, responsible for our own lives, and not our father's children? No, the movie never blamed the father, but I hear a lot of viewers simultaneously saying "See, my dad was the same way."

Where's the movie about a guy that stayed with his wife, through good times and bad? A movie about a man who loved his mother and father in spite of their failures? A movie about a man who realizes that he is of his own making?

I have to admit, I don't see where the movie was unfair to his first wife. Sure she was a little bit whiney in the beginning. When they couldn't pay bills and were ready to be evicted, Johnny was squandering money on music magazines (including mags with cover pictures of future wife June Carter), Vivian wanted to go see her daddy. Ok, she should have "stood by her man" (Tammy Wynette) and suppoorted him, but somehow a mother of 1.5 children has a right to whine.

Vivian stood by her children and even was right to tell the young divorcee to "stay away from my girls." I hope to read her side of the story in the book "I Walked the Line: My Life With Johnny."

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