The Zephyr

It started with The Shawshank Redemption. I am sure.

A friend proudly spoke of a movie that he had seen and I had not. He seemed to enjoy the tone of blasphemy that he was able to incorporate. “You haven’t seen The Shawshank Redemption?” My life was suddenly not worth all the years I had spent living it. Lately, I usually get very upset when people express their utter surprise and shock when I say – nope, never heard of them. This fellow – I was willing to forgive. He is on no social network other then email. People who are addicted to reading everything that is shared, usually suffer from this affliction of blasphemous spit out.

A few weeks later, DVD in my hand I walked back home that Friday evening with a promise of a pale ale paired with a prison break.

Since then, The Shawshank Redemption (TSR) has been on the top of my favourite movies. It has been a while that a few movies starring Sean Penn, Daniel Day Lewis, Geoffery Rush and Jeff Bridges, have tried dethroning TSR, they have not succeeded. It may have something to do with an education I received via TSR.

[Potential spoiler ahead]

Andy Dufresne, in a scene in the movie, plays a song from Le Nozze Di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). According to Wikipedia:

Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) defies Warden Sam Norton (Bob Gunton) by playing the duettino over the prison’s loudspeakers. Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) remarks in his voice-over narration that, “I’d like to think [the singers] were singing about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it.”

It is an opera composed in 1786 in four acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was my first introduction to opera – and I am glad for it. The song that is played in the movie is from Act 3 and is called Che Soave Zeffiretto (What a gentle little Zephyr.)

Since this basic introduction to opera, I have been fortunate to attend an opera (Il trovatore – The Troubadour; an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi). Interestingly, this visit to the opera was due to another friend, who shuns social media. And I have been blessed, since.

Recently, Mahendra started a very interesting series on his blog about Western Classical Music. Call it WCM 101, if you will. I am just glad that I have friends around me who enrich me, every time I get to know them better. I have been trying hard to understand opera in the same way – using clues from Mahendra’s series.

I am failing.

My relationship with music has been necessarily of association and emotional recalls. In the Wikipedia link above, you will find the translation of Che Soave Zeffiretto – there is hardly any body to the ‘content’ of the song – you will notice. And, I wonder if that is the beauty of it. Low on content; high on emotion. But it does mention Zephyr – a soft gentle breeze, blowing from the west. There’s romance in that. That it blows from the west is a technicality, but the soft gentle breeze is what I am talking about. It does me in.

A couple of days ago, this word – Zephyr – came up, in some other context.

And I tried, with significant effort to talk of this song (I am not sure even, if I should be referring to it as a “song.”)

I gave up, explaining. I promised, I’d play the song, someday.

Red (a character from TSR, said it well enough for me):

I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

Enough, enough now.

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “The Zephyr

    • Small things – the way we get to know each other, eh? Thank you – I won’t go to the extent of saying it was a life changer – but it has had some impact on my life. Time & Pressure, time & pressure. 🙂

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  1. That one scene – with the music playing and dufresne lost in it, with no care for the world, and the look on the rest of the prisoners – just that one scene makes it worthwhile to watch the movie again and again. Loved this. I wonder if you’ve read the book? One of the few instances when I felt the movie had done justice to the book, may be even bettered it.

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  2. For a moment, I thought the friend you mention at the start of the post was me – and it might well have been. For I’ve been known to react that way with some folks who I discovered had not watched TSR.

    Thank you for the mention about WC101.

    I won’t say anything about that scene and the music because I can’t.

    Your post brought a lot of nostalgia about how I chose TSR as the winner for films starting with ‘S’ in my A-Z film series, from over 30 shortlisted films.

    So, thanks again for this post. The power of the film is such that not only does it rekindle our lust of life on each repeat viewing, but ignites that lust even after you share about the film meaningfully with your friends.

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  3. the movie scored high on everything- characterisation, dialogues, acting, surprise element, close to life portrayal of life in a prison…oen of the best movies no doubt.

    on writing- it baffles me how some of you guys move from one thought to another and go right back to the first thought! i should learn that..to go with the flow…

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