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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 27, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Transported by a “Meditation”

A picture (moving or otherwise) can be worth a thousand words; a few notes of music can too. Yesterday, I watched a lovely Swedish movie, directed by Jan Troell, called “Everlasting Moments,” about a woman named Maria who finds her grim life (in a small town, from 1907 until after the war) slowly transformed by her own quiet passion for photography. In it, I heard a piece of music familiar to my ear, yet different every time: Jules Massenet’s “Meditation,” from the opera “Thais.” Played on a plaintive violin, it’s the kind of music that wraps itself around you, telling a story with notes that seem to reach as endlessly as a dancer’s arms. In the movie, with the violin played by the gentle man who runs the town photography studio, it signified for Maria a love that remained out of reach; a heartbreaking yet resolute acceptance of something that cannot be. It recurs several times in the film, each time perfectly capturing an emotion of which Maria never speaks.
I found a lovely version of it online, played by Sarah Chang and the Berlin Philharmonic. Close your eyes and think of . . . well, whatever you want. It’ll take you somewhere. Troell understands its power perfectly in “Everlasting Moments,” which will be in theaters March 13.

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