Saturday, March 17, 2007

Walk the Line

-1. Overview (multimedia)
-2. Overview Basic (dial up speed)
-3. Reviews and Blogs
-4. Cast and Crew
-5. Photo Pages
-6. Trailers, Clips, DVDs, Books, Soundtrack
-7. Posters (Joaquin Phoenix)
-8. Production Notes (pdf)
-9. Spiritual Connections
-10. Presentation Downloads

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Few people have had the impact on contemporary society as has Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash was a man who never forgot his roots, and as a result, when allowed to be set free from everyone else's expectations, he was able to create music that would last a lifetime. In many ways, Walk the Line is a docudrama of the life of Johnny Cash and his love affair with June Carter. It is more than that though; it is a self-reflective story that explores the horrors and nightmares of Cash coming to an acceptance of his music, his loves, and most importantly, himself.

There will be much that is said about this movie, I will say this, it is as reflective, well presented, and acted as movies dealing with musical icons over the last few years such as Bobby Darin and Ray Charles. What Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon do is phenomenal. I must admit, that after hearing at how great of a job they did, I was a little disappointed at first when watching the movie, however, this quickly changes as the actors seem to take on the very persona of Johnny Cash and June Carter. It was done so well that you could almost make a believer out of me of the concept of channeling. This movie is a bi-product that I can't help but believe that ol' Johnny and June, if still around would be pleased with. Notice I didn't say proud of, but pleased with.

This movie deals largely with the life of Johnny Cash and June Carter prior to their marriage and the life changing events that would occur later on. While there are traces of evidence as to the importance of their faith, there are only traces. That evidence wouldn't come about in their lives until after the events portrayed in the movie. What we see instead, is a dark, obsessed, search by the person of Johnny Cash. He is in an unhappy marriage, has some understanding of his gifts, and realizes the search he must continue on. June Carter is in the same struggle, although she comes from a different type of background as Johnny. This helps symbolize the importance of the journey that we are all on, despite the path that got us to the point of making the decisions we must inevitably make. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon do such a good job that it will be a shame if they are not recognized for their roles during the upcoming Award Season. By the end of the movie, I found myself believing I had just seen Johnny Cash and June Carter acting out their lives on screen. When realizing that they each sung the songs themselves it makes the transition even more remarkable.

enlargeEasily ignored in the portrayals of the lead roles are the supporting cast in the film. Among those that did an exceptional job are Robert Patrick as Johnny Cash's dad Ray, and Waylon Payne playing the part of Jerry Lee Lewis. There is also Sandra Lafferty who has an uncanny resemblance to Mother Maybelle Carter. You can't help but also notice the belief the real life family must have had in this movie as there are Cash's and Carter's in abundance in supporting roles. While there are many others in the supporting cast, this movie is about two characters primarily, Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Walk the Line is a love story, a strange love story filled with darkness and searching, but nonetheless, a love story. The movie does not present everything as lovy dovy though. We see the struggles and imperfections of Johnny Cash and June Carter. We see it from the self-introspection that occurs in the life of June Carter, the sexual immorality of the characters, but also in the search for answers in all of the wrong places. Ultimately, though, Walk the Line is about love, the love that each character needs and is in search for.

Various sub plots keep you thinking long after the movie is over. It is one of the reasons that I went out right after the movie and added to my Johnny Cash collection, and the reason I am taking the rest of my family to see the movie tonight. There is the story of struggle between a father and a son, the struggles of a son looking for acceptance from his father and mother. The story of a young woman dealing with the success of her past, yet trying to find out who she is deep down inside. It is about all of these things, but about so much more. While the movie gives glimpses of the importance of faith in the journey, it is there as a backdrop, never forcing itself down the throat of the viewer. In the same way that it was there for Johnny Cash, always there with many answers, but never forcing itself down Johnny Cash's throat. Eventually though, in the end, we see the importance of that faith, it is that, mixed in with the love of family, an adopted one, The Carter's, which allowed Johnny Cash to escape his demons and ultimately find love.

In the finding of that love, Johnny Cash never forgot about those he wrote songs for. His first album after coming clean from drugs and his past was Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. Shortly after that, he recorded At San Quentin. Both albums were in the early stages of his faith journey, you could still see the progression of his music, and faith. You could see it in such songs as The Greystone Chapel written by Glen Sherley an inmate at the time in Folsom Prison.

The Greystone Chapel
By: Glen Sherley

Inside the walls of prison my body may be but my Lord has set my soul free
There's a greystone chapel here at Folsom a house of worship in this den of sin
You wouldn't think that God had a place here at Folsom
But he saved the souls of many lost men
Now there's greystone chapel here at Folsom
Stands a hundred years all made of granite rock
It takes a ring of keys to move here at Folsom
But the door to the House of God is never locked
Inside the walls of prison my body may be but my Lord has set my soul free

There are men here that don't ever worship
There are men here who scoff at the ones who pray
But I've got down on my knees in that greystone chapel
And I thank the Lord for helpin' me each day
Now there's greystone chapel here at Folsom
It has a touch of God's hand on ever stone
It's a flower of light in a field of darkness and it's givin' me the strenght to carry on
Inside the walls of prison my body may be but my Lord has set my soul free.

The song has even more meaning when realizing that it was the closing song performed at the recorded concert at Folsom Prison. When you hear the response of the inmates, realizing that the answers they are searching for are included in the lyrics of the song, you get a better understanding of where Johnny Cash was coming from. Unfortunately, that segment is not included in the movie, but it is heard on the re-release, and unedited version of the album.

Walk the Line is not a perfect movie, but it comes pretty darned close. It tells an incredible story, in an incredible way, with incredible actors. It is a shame that this movie opened the same weekend as Harry Potter; it is a shame because this movie will have legs. It is that good and that thought provoking. Johnny Cash continues to live, in more ways than one.

On a scale of 1 - 10, for a near perfect movie, I give a 9.5

-Overview (multimedia)
-Reviews and Blogs

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