Sunday, July 10, 2005

Call Me Morbid, Call Me Pale, I Spent Six [Weeks] on Your Trail

There are two things I know for sure:
1) I am extremely morbid
2) I love dance movies

Combine the two, and what do you get? Why, Six Weeks. It features Oscar-ignorable performances by Mary Tyler Moore, Dudley Moore (coincidence?) and the ill-fated Katherine Healy. Six Weeks is the sad, sad tale of a little girl ballerina dying of leukemia. She's given six weeks to live, so she spends her remaining time running around New York bravely sticking her hands in wet cement, eating sundaes, riding the subway and dancing as Clara in the Nutcracker, all the time, aware of the doom that awaits and staring it down like a trooper.

She can do whatever she wants, because she's dying, you see. It's like every girl's dream, without the death. Being a ballerina, dancing in the Nutcracker, as Clara no less, running amok in a giant city acting like a spoiled brat, eating sundaes for breakfast and having everyone be all nice and understanding about it because you could go at any moment. That's a freaking sweet deal.

It's like a Shel Silverstein poem. The one about how the parents should get the kid a pony because the kid will die if they don't, and then the parents will be sorry. I could vaguely relate to that, but not really, because I never understood the allure of ponies and horses. They smell. Being Clara in the Nutcracker was a far more attractive idea.

It's one of the enduring memories of my childhood, this Six Weeks. The only movies I may have watched more are Darby O'Gill and the Little People and Clash of the Titans. If we were ever flipping around the TV and it was on HBO, I'd insist that we stop and finish it. Especially if we were near the death scene. Oh, the tragedy. She dies right after her climactic performance as Clara. She doesn't even get to enjoy it all that much. One minute, laughing and swinging around on a subway pole, the next, collapsed in her mother's arms. DEAD. My stepdad caught on to me pretty quickly. "She only likes this movie because the girl dies."

Well, yes. But she dances, too.