Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Homage to Julie


Julie Walters is one of my favourite actresses. I can’t think of any other who can move me to tears as well as make me hysterical with laughter. She is totally devoid of vanity and ‘luvvie -ness.’ Just one example of her unique comic brilliance is the sketch ‘Two Soups’ which I hope I can successfully embed – but if not there are many examples on You tube. The PC brigade may think it is mocking the old but the older I get – the funnier I find it.

There are many examples of her ability to capture the essence of a character and engage the emotions of the audience – the latest of which was her portrayal, the other night on TV, in ‘A Short Stay in Switzerland’; a true story of a doctor stricken with an illness –Progressive Supranuclear Palsy that would render her completely helpless, and this after she had cared for her husband until his death, from a similar disease. She describes it as ‘a bomb going off in my body – slowly but surely,’ and decides to go to a clinic in Zurich, for an assisted suicide, whilst she still has the strength to get there.

She tries to convince her three grown –up children that this is what she must do but they protest vehemently and help her to move from her large, beautiful house into a tiny bungalow. In despair at her increasing helplessness, she attempts suicide, crushing many tablets in orange juice and gin, drinking it and putting a plastic bag over her face, but her children – alerted by no answer to their telephone calls - rush round and save her.

Slowly they each come round to agreeing to accompany her to Switzerland so that she can die with dignity. Her best friend will not accept that she is choosing a ‘good death’ as opposed to a ‘bad death’ and calls her selfish, cruel and stupid, and their friendship ends.

In the clinic she has to declare her condition and that she is completely determined to end her life and does this without the children present. After the children rejoin her, she is given the fatal dose, which is bitter, drinks it unflinchingly, is helped onto the bed where she dies in the arms of the children.

The play leaves lots of questions and no real answers. Which is the more selfish: to deprive your children of their mother, or save them from having the responsibility of care, whilst you slowly become totally helpless like their father did, but to a more severe degree. I hope I never have to face the dilemma.

PS I got Two Soups on my edit posts but it won’t transfer. You can see it on You Tube normally – not just now.


Eryl Shields said...

I have to say I don't think it's selfish at all, having watched my mother die in agony I would have done anything to end her suffering, even though she was really good company to the end. I think it selfish to want to keep someone hanging on in pain and misery, quite frankly.

I love Julie Walters too, she seems able to turn her hand to anything.

kenju said...

I hate to say I'm not all that familiar with her work. I will look for it.

scarlet-blue said...

The play leaves lots of questions and no real answers

I suppose there aren't any real answers. Hopefully I will never find myself in this position... but I imagine that those who are, tear themselves apart thinking about it.

AndrewM said...

Still think her greatest role was Mrs Overall in Victoria Wood's spoof soap opera, Acorn Antiques.

savannah said...

i'll have to look for the video, sugar! thank you1

Zed said...

I echo Eryl - 100%. A hard task to take on - and by a wonderful actress.

Nea said...

Here is a link to Two Soups.

Julie walters is wonderful, there's always a warmth to her performances. The girls and I watched her in the film "Billy Elliot" last weekend.

Kim Ayres said...

Julie Waters is always superb. In fact I have to admit I avoided watching it as I knew I wouldn't be able to cope with the emotional impact of it.

PI said...

Eryl:I had that perpetual bereavement too with my brother.

Judy: she is worth it I promise you.

Scarlet; the more I think about it the less I am sure. For instance if I got Alzheimers as my dear brother dis, I would want to die before its long dreary end, but part of me says that's not how it is meant to be.

Andrew.M: you could be right but I adore her waitress.

Savannah: to cheer yourself up press on Nea's link.

Zed: is she a dame? She certainly should be.

PI said...

Nea: God bless you my dear:)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh, I LOVE Julie WAlters...She can do anything! And this film/play/tv show sounds really wonderful....!!
I hope we get to see it here.
Personally, I think she made the BEST and Wisest choice for ALL Concerned. If anything, I don't see it as a selfish act at all! More like 'selfless'. I know someone who had a simular disease and her death was a terrible TERRIBLE slow slow horror, with her losing more of her ability to do anything and everything on a daily basis which went on forever, till it didn't anymore. Very painful for her, and very painful for her children....!
I bet Julie Walters was BRILLIANT!
Thanks for telling us about this, Pat....

PI said...

Naomi: I thought you would know of Julie. Re the play- hopefully it will help get the legal ramifications sorted out. At present I think any family members who are present could be arrested for assisting - which is quite a risk of them to take.

PI said...

Kim: it wasn't jolly to watch but I was concentrating so hard on the content that I managed not to be totally cast down.

The Preacherman said...

I watched it and it made me cry - not much does.

She was beyond brilliant. Extraordinary isn't enough.

If that had been made a major movie an Oscar would have been a walkover.

I'm so so glad I watched it.

I'm booking my ticket over for possible future use n all...

PI said...

Manic: I'm glad you watched it too. Lots of people are afraid to and it's the last thing MTL would watch.
I might join you.