I wanted to watch this to see Audrey Hepburn‘s final screen role that was made for her but took her whole career to finally be cast in, that of an angel, a stroke of genius really by Steven Spielberg when making Always (1989). Starting career in the 1940’s as a fictional princess in Roman Holiday that saw her win her only Oscar. I am not really a fan of her work my perception of her is a woman with her head in the clouds, away with the fairies, a dreamer. And that is the attraction to her, which I never will be drawn to, yet in this almost cameo role as a guiding angel to dead pilot Pete Sandich (Richard Dreyfuss) after dying from rescuing his friend and fellow fire-fighter pilot Al Yackey (John Goodman). When Pete leaves in a fireball that consumes his plane he leaves behind his frustrated lover Dorinda Durston (Holly Hunter).
It does draw some very pale similarities with Ghost (1990) released a year later to more successful result, with Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze, that’s another film altogether. What we have here is another Spielberg film that really pulls out all the stops to make you cry, full of schmaltz which is synonymous with his work. At times I was trying not to laugh at how cliché the film was, all before the heartbreak of the death of Pete’s death which takes the film to another level and solidly into the plot of the film, that sees the dead Pete becoming an inspiration to another still living, by the angel Hap (Hepburn) dressed head to toe in pure white (now dated) yet her presence takes this film to the level of what she has always personified in film, an angelic and innocent quality of beauty that has given her the wisdom that what feels like centuries of time. She’s not trying to be a godly figure with the casualness of Morgan Freeman‘s God in Bruce Almighty (2003). Her lack of physical presence’s spread through the film’s duration in the mission she gives to newly dead Pete.
Sent down to inspire a young pilot we met before Ted Baker (Brad Johnson) who joins the pilot school lead by Al (Goodman) who is training pilots to work with fire-fighters, the lighter side of the film, which also grounds the film, in the form of John Goodman who brings Dorinda out to join him. It’s almost predictable what is about to happen, it doesn’t matter though. Focusing on Pete who has to suffer with overwhelming pain seeing his lover fall for another. Not able to let her go, whilst he has to encourage a pilot who is more than rough around edges and with a possible John Wayne impression.
It’s incredible how the difficulty that the relationship between Dorindai and Pete torn apart by death, can relate to others that are ended by the death. To imagine that our loved ones who have passed on, have come down as ghost to inspire others, and eventually say goodbye and move on themselves. Who knows if this is really true regarding the afterlife. It’s the journey that the dead and living have to go through to finally move on that makes this work, filled with all the usual magic touches including a cheeky one at the very end that is a brave move to share with the audience.
Even though it’s full of the classic Spielberg of the 1980’s I am glad I took the time out to view Always a film that’s main attraction was a few scenes with an actress I don’t really care about. A moment in cinema that personifies an image that could easily have been missed. Whilst telling a tale that comforts an audiences spiritual side mixed with heaps of romance to make it more worthwhile.
- Steven Spielberg: Always (armchairc.blogspot.co.uk)
- DAY 18: Always (1989) (damianarlyn.blogspot.co.uk)