7.24.2002

A Gentle, Fragile Soul

Years ago I was deeply touched by a film short I saw several times on a local public television station. It was entited "Appearances", in reference to the fact that certain characteres in the film were more concerned with how things looked to others, than in showing compassion to those they were responsible for...

Fast Forward about a decade or so. I'm reminded of it somehow, and decide to finally track down the person or persons who put it all together. I finally identify and locate him, writing him a letter....
You ask for a bit more about why it touched me...Many reasons, I guess. I was brought up in a small village in the 1960's and 1970's with a lot of supportive people in my life. I was exposed early to people of all ages, but especially older people. My own grandmother lived down the road, then later with us. I helped play piano and serve communion at nursing homes with my church. I saw on the one hand how people said you should respect your elders but on the other hand many didn't - they were discounted or ignored. My experience was that they were interesting people. In college I visited nursing homes and talked with older people coming away fascinated by their life experiences, realizing once again that the body is simply a shell, but that many cannot get beyond it to see the person.

My father had a younger brother who was mentally fragile, mostly due to environmental reasons (meaning home environment in this instance). My Uncle Grant eventually became unstable enough that he no longer could live on his own. From the stories I heard, from the denigration of his spirit and self-esteem he experienced from his father, he definitely came to mind when I saw your film. I saw it for a wider context, yes, but we all tend to personalize. Some people react to such emotional abuse by getting angry, while other quiet souls retreat as he did.

I think your choice of hard transition, no faces, anchoring the feelings of freedom with the artistic expression of the child with the music refrains, was powerful. It's funny how some things burn into your mind, but "Appearances" definitely did for me...

I try to remember to be compassionate to people, but I admit there are times when thoughtless words come out of my mouth. I am reminded by certain things that cross my life - Christ's words, your film - and I am reminded again, rebuked, and humbled. That is a good thing...
"I have a heart for the physically/mentally disadvantaged...my film pays homage to 'The Elephant Man' and also tries to bring about a new way of looking at persons with disabilities."

- Torry Nordling, producer/director of Appearances