Saturday, March 25, 2006

Old Friends Who Just Met

The kids and I watched The Muppet Movie last night. I hadn’t seen it in years and they had never seen it at all. It’s a unique movie in that it is child-like without being childish and innocent without being maudlin. I felt like I was looking into Jim Henson’s soul as I watched it.

Elsewhere on the web there’s a site that commemorates an event by a group of women. It looks like it was a road trip or vacation they all took together. One of them posted the lyrics from a song in The Muppet Movie as their theme song. They were nice enough to share the lyrics and I thought I’d post them here, too. The song is very complex for a family movie, yet fitting. The lyrics capture the essence of this film.

This looks familiar,
Vaguely familiar,
Almost unreal, yet ...
It's too soon to feel, yet ...
Close to my soul,
And, yet, so far away ...
I'm going to go back there someday.

Sun rises.
Night falls.
Sometimes, the sky calls.
Is that a song there?
And do I belong there?
I've never been there,
But I know the way ...
I'm going to go back there someday.

Come and go with me,
It's more fun to share.
We'll both be completely,
At home in mid-air.
We're flyin', not walking
On featherless wings.
We can hold onto love
Like invisible strings.

There's not a word yet,
For old friends who've just met ...
Part Heaven
Part Space
Or have I found my place ...
You can just visit,
But I plan to stay.
I'm going to go back there someday.

I'm going to go back there someday.

It’s a G-rated movie with a cast of puppets and eloquent, reflective poetry in its songs. Unique indeed.

Another fellow on the net interviewed Paul Williams who co-wrote the songs for the movie. This question stands out.

MS: Is there any one song of yours that stands out as a personal favorite?

PW: "Rainbow Connection."…"Rainbow Connection" is ultimately my favorite song. Kenny Asher and I wrote it for "The Muppet Movie" and I think it's got as much hope in it as anything I've ever written. It's a song about the mystery of life. Another song in the film is a close runner up, maybe an equal. It's a song called, "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday." "There's not a word yet for old friends who just met" may be as good a line as I've ever written.
After reading it, I began to think that watching The Muppet Movie is really looking into the souls of many of the people who worked on it. There seems to have been a tremendous synergy of feeling, as if the cast and crew shared a religion of hope and friendship and they were trying to evangelize us.

The songs are sung by Jim Henson and Frank Oz and the rest of the Muppet creators with a morning shower singing quality, like they were housemates and great friends of ours and didn’t mind if we heard them singing a little off-key. The whole movie has that feel, as if the cast and crew poured their hearts out for us, as naturally as they would pour us a cup of coffee or get us a soda during a football game. “Old friends who just met” captures it perfectly.

My daughter picked up some wonderful symbolism at the very end of the movie that I had missed all these years. I’ll try to describe it without spoilers. At the end, the Muppets are all together in a building and something happens where part of the roof gives way. After it does, a rainbow comes in through the gap in the roof and ends right in the grouped Muppets as they sing the finale with the lyrics, “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending, keep believing, keep pretending...” I’ve always loved those lyrics, but with the camera far away from the singers in the scene, the image seems to say that the pieces of gold at the end of the rainbow are the friends we make in life.

As I write this, I’m realizing that the symbolism was far deeper than that. In the end, the tangible rewards of the characters’ hard work are clearly not as important as you, their old friends they just met.

Some movie reviewers like Michael Medved write about the unnecessary insertion of vulgarity into our movies. He also persuasively argues that family movies are more often profitable than R-rated movies. If I were to ask Hollywood for something, I wouldn’t just ask for less vulgarity and more films I can share with my children. I’d ask for more family movies like this one.

Paul Williams has a website devoted to charities and helping people in crisis. Visit it now! The Feline Theocracy commands you!


Justin said...

That movie is older than me!!!

21 in two weeks, since I know you're curious...

Brett Dupree said...

One of my favorite movies growing up and still is. While writing my own blog post on the song "I'm going to go back there someday" I came across your blog. Jim Henson Enlightened Master Thanks to your blog I know he didn't write the songs. Thanks for making me not look like a fool. :)

I also put a link in my blog to yours. I hope you do not mind. Happy blogging!

Haney said...

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