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This film is a rare gem of a short-story-come-to-lfe and I can't recommend it highly enough, though I'll try. High up on my list of "what life is all about" films, this one shines through and doesn't let go. A worthy old woman is dying and secretly knows it, and strives to express her last will and testament, unacceptable to her husband and children, but intuitively understood by her equally worthy granddaughter. Tillie Olsen, the original story's author, does indeed understand silences, because this film has no unnecessary words, scenes or melodrama. The unsaid in the lead character's life... is likewise implied, and is infinitely more eloquent and poignant . In interspersed flashbacks of her youth the viewers understand that she has suffered the terrors of an unenlightened Old World culture, the majesty of a grand mass struggle to rise above it, the unspeakable tragedy and lifelime trauma of seeing her best friend martyred for this struggle, the poignant permanance of compromise in the choice of one's lifemate and in the subsequent life choices she has made, always for others. And we see her small and large unspoiled joys.... of song and dance, of companionship, of sexual union. And finally Death faces her... seemingly alone. The film unfolds slowly in exploring this universal and ultimate human test. Nobody is really "with" her, until she reaches her beautiful granddaughter, Jeannie, her only true legacy. To this shining young one is imparted the secrets of her soul; scrapbook photos of the literary and philosophical giants who have sustained her in her darkest and brightest moments... Walt Whitman, Emile Zola, Alexandra Blok and other grand and selfless heros of a dreamed-for better day. The legacy is indeed passed on, and surviving husband and granddaughter celebrate the moment of physical transformation with dignified and sorrowful affirmation. For all who nurture the affairs of the soul, this is one film not to be missed.
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