Posting about the documentary Prodigal Sons wasn't something I'd planned on, mostly because it didn't seem at first I had much of a reason to use this space to do so. The film's been out a while; even though I just saw it a few weeks ago, it's not exactly news.
I could tie in the fact that it's one of the nominees, in the Best Documentary category, announced last week by the GLAAD Media Awards. Or maybe I could use the news that broke a few days ago about the impending release of The Other Side of the Wind, the supposed "unfinished masterpiece" by Orson Welles that's been squirreled away unseen during a 40-year dispute over ownership.
There are reasons even more compelling than those for me. Like one of the reviewers in the clip blurbs below, I simply cannot get this film out of my head, so this is a bit of an exorcism. There's also the GLBT piece, which was what first caught my attention when I heard about it. But that's just one part of this story and the whole of this documentary is much larger than the sum of its individual parts. Bigger than sibling rivalry, bigger than mental illness, bigger even than Orson Welles.
This is a story, and a damned good one, about the stuff that we all can't help but relate to: how and why we are who we really are, and who and what we have to fight in order to be that person, the choices we relinquish out of love, or struggle to defend with our lives.
And the three very different endings those three women found to this story are a parable about our options, as Nature Boys and Nature Girls, and how easy it is to forget those options when you let somebody else drive. When you let yourself be their dream and not your own; when you are a mirror for a door inside somebody else. When you forget that you always own the sand and stone beneath your feet; when your answer to the question "Are you alive?" is not firm and quick and immediate, fierce and on fire with the knowing of the answer to the question. When you forget who painted the sky; when you forget what you are here for.
That's from one of Jacob's final Caprica recaps. I was still mourning the show and reading those last four pieces of his at the same time I was first watching, then rewatching, Prodigal Sons, so it's all wrapped up in my head together, a convoluted, bittersweet meditation on identity and kinship.
If you haven't already done so, go watch this movie. It's out on DVD now, and also available via Netflix and iTunes.