Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Small Moment of Truth: At The Movies

Image description: A photo of a moment in the movie where Margaret is being pushed in her wheelchair by Alan.

Joe and I decided to see The Lady in the Van on Family Day, which is a February holiday in many parts of Canada, and we knew we'd have to go early to get seats because our local cinema has a decidedly elderly and disabled audience. The wheelchair seating is often at a premium! As it happened we got there in plenty of time to sit back, relax and, enjoy the pre-show as we were often instructed to do.

Without question, we loved the movie. I told a wonderful and completely human story. And though it never used the word 'family' it was about 'family.' There was a moment, though, and I don't think this is a 'spoiler' but be cautious about reading further if you don't want to know anything about the movie before going ... I'm like that.

The moment is a moment that anyone in a wheelchair would understand as completely real. Margaret, the elderly woman in the story, asks Alan, the man whose driveway she overtakes, asks him for a push up to the end of the street. When they are near the top of the street, she tells him to stop. He is confused. They aren't anywhere but at the top of the street. She turns the wheelchair round and let's go! She flies down the street laughing, loving the movement and the feel of the road beneath her and the wind that blew through her hair.

Many in the theatre were laughing, because it is a funny moment. But I wasn't. My hands were over my mouth and I was savouring, finally, a real moment about disability on the screen. A real moment of joy that is unique to wheelchair users like me. When it was over I glanced over at the other person in a wheelchair who glanced at me ... we had both loved what we saw and were glad to share it together.

I seldom see truth in films about disability.

This was a truthful moment.

And I was deeply thankful for it.


cairesmum said...

Hills can be obstacles...or glorious delight! And your experience of delight was shown on the screen...not the grim view that most people expect to see and do see on the screen when a character is in a WC.

Andrea S. said...

There are a few moments in earlier episodes of "Switched at Birth" that I think have a "Small Moment of Truth" in them, for deaf people. Later seasons of this series have not had quite the nuanced layers of complexity and truth sometimes reflected in the first year or so of this series, but at least early on they were consulting pretty closely with Deaf community members and it seemed to show pretty well in some of their earlier scripts.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Every time I see a wheelchair, in a photo like this or in real life, it makes me anxious: the woman's feet are NOT supported, and I worry her legs and feet will get caught when someone incautiously pushes - or that she will be forced unnaturally to hold her feet up.

Is this a natural worry? Being pushed before you're ready for it must be a real hazard.