Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dancing with Heavenly Stars

When I'm travelling or spending time in my kitchen most of the time I listen to the local radio so it was with sadness that during the news announcements I learnt of the death of actor Patrick Swayze.

I don't think there can be many people who haven't seen the feel good factor films Dirty Dancing and Ghost in which Patrick starred. They are both perennially popular films in which Patrick's characters Johnny Castle and Sam Wheat portray those attributes that we look most for in the opposite sex -love and devotion.

I'm sure Patrick, for whom there has been nothing but the highest praise as an artist and more importantly as a man, has left a wonderful personal legacy to his friends and family. It must also be comforting for his loved ones to be able to look back over his career and know that he brought joy to other people and made such a positive impact.

Of course, there are many wonderful books, films and TV shows in the media but the vast majority don't make us feel good in the sense in that whilst we may still admire them, they don't always touch the soul. Sometimes books or films may even make us cry or laugh but maybe still have a missing ingredient - that little extra something which says it can be beautiful to be human, to love, and often to love in the face of adversity.

When I think about the success of Dirty Dancing and Ghost I like to think that this extra element is why they are such wonderful films. If you look past the superficiality of the themes (dance movie/ love story) there is a lot more to them than at first meets the eye. Dirty Dancing might reveal in the dance moves but it also deals with the pain of becoming an adult. Baby (Jennifer Grey) is still very much a "baby" at the outset of the movie but by the end she has become a woman. To do so she has to step outside her known world and risk her family's disapproval. She has to observe the realities of adulthood; the conniving of some of the guests and teenagers, Penny's abortion, Robbie's betrayal. She has to decide where to place herself in the world. The fact that she experiences these challenges makes us appreciate more the love that grows between her and Johnny.

Of course, love in the face of adversity makes us feel good too, it makes us feel warm, joyful, courageous. Sometimes it even makes us want to sing and dance like in that spectacular finale to Dirty Dancing...

Do you remember the tune?!

And what about Ghost? It's another film where there is as much pain as there is love. Patrick Swayze's character, Sam Wheat, is murdered early on in the film and as a consequence he comes back as a ghost to protect his lover, Molly (Demi Moore), from the grasping colleague who was the cause of his death. It's a terrific film which goes from sadness and tears, laughter and slapstick to a finale where the early grief of Sam's death is replaced with acceptance, and even happiness, as he leaves Molly to continue his journey into the afterlife. There is a sense that love conquers all, that death is only death in the earthly sense of the word, that life and love continue. Sam's final words as he retreats into the light are;

"It's amazing Molly. .........The love inside, you take it with you.......... See ya."

So if you've not seen Ghost or Dirty Dancing you really must find the time. They are films that make you have faith in the human spirit.

On a final note, I've never seen a ghost. But if it's true that they are unhappy souls wandering the earth looking for resolutions then, from what I've read about Patrick Swayze, there is no reason to suspect that he will be doing anything but dancing amongst the heavenly stars.


  1. I will never, ever(!) forget that pottery scene in Ghost. Grrrr.

  2. Oh lawyer Mom I know just what you mean! I think that scene started my addiction to mud face packs - but for some reason Mr T is not impressed.

  3. mmmm. I must admit to seeing dirty dancing, and being right into it, but I halt the coach at ghost! Oh no, not for me. Although I do love a good Rom Com, there's no denying it.

    It's a shame about Patrick Swayze, he was a legend, and i will, along with err indoors, be sparing a thought for him. Nice post Mrs T

  4. Hmmm...I suspect that your aversion to Ghost is because you don't want to blub in front of the missus:))

    You'll love it you silly billy. Watch it and book Mrs D some pottery classes:)

  5. It's got to be better than the drivell I got from the video shop last night. four 4 a tenna, I've been robbed!:)

  6. A very nice tribute to the man.

    Can't forget his comic talents as well.

    Remember his bit with Chris Farley on SNL when he was competing for dance spot with Chippendales?

  7. Gary,

    Hmm..sounds like you got out The Best of Thomas The Tank Engine and Friends then:)


    Ha, ha, ha - I just checked that out! I've never seen SNL as we have been latecomers to Sky. I was willing Chris Farley's pants to drop down further!!

    'Course I was willing Patrick's pants to drop down too - but for entirely different reasons:))

    For anyone else who hasn't seen Patrick on SNL check out this link;

  8. What a nice tribute. I liked him in both those films - what an amazing dancer he was!


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