The Poseidon Effect

In 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure,” Gene Hackman leads a ragtag group of survivors through the maze that has been born of a luxury liner turned upside down. Along the way he loses members of the surviving group to various and literal trials by water, fire, and even steam. What was once a glamourous, exciting vacation, became a hellish mirror world, and very few made it out alive.

The movie won an Oscar for “Best Original Song” with “The Morning After.” The line from the chorus goes, “There’s got to be a morning after, if we can make it through the night…”

“There’s got to be a morning after, if we can make it through the night…”

If ever there were a more appropriate song to sing to one’s self in dark times, I can’t think of it. Maureen McGovern’s classically 70’s girl-swoon makes the song sad, and hopeful, and tender. Just what any chronic pain or depression sufferer needs. It’s not too upbeat and happy, but there’s something good in it.

I think about “The Poseidon Adventure” frequently. Perhaps it’s because it’s a movie that I saw many times as a child and it just stuck with me. Perhaps it’s because I like the song. Maybe I just enjoy the film for what it is… a well-crafted disaster movie with an interesting plot.

However, there is some part of me that embraces “The Poseidon Adventure” as a twisted metaphor for my life. I was but a happy traveler and then things went horribly wrong, and now I’m making my way through something that was once beautiful. Now it’s wrong, somehow. Everything is upside down and I don’t recognize much of it. Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. Wasn’t I wearing a fancy dress and glamorous? Why am I disheveled and scared?

Gene Hackman’s character is a non-nonsense reverend. He’s cool, not in the sunglasses sense, but in the cool-headed, guy you’d want to follow in a crisis sense. He spends the entire movie yelling at everyone for being weak while also encouraging them to go on. Today, I feel weak. And I’m beating myself up about it. What I’m missing is the voice that says, “you can do it, damn it!”

I need some Hackman in my life.

Reverend Hackman’s character says, “So what resolution should we make for the new year? It’s to let God know that you have the guts and the will to do it alone. Resolve to fight for yourselves, and for others, for those you love. And that part of God within you will be fighting with you all the way.”

Resolve to fight for myself, and that part of God within me will be fighting with me.

Right on, Hackman. Right on.

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