"Like an old dusty road I get weary from the load"
Like the first episode ,it was the first time this part of the novel had been transferred to the screen;except for the ending and some soap opera elements I'll go back to,it perfectly depicts the living hell of the death row where Clyde spends the last days of his life .
It begins with a meeting of Clyde's mom with Samuel Griffiths' selfish family (not from the book) ,then a brief look at the tour the mother undertakes to raise funds and to vindicate his son,helped by the reporters .
So it takes 21 minutes before we meet Clyde again;in this jail ,where ,as Mr Dreiser wrote,the wardens feel as depressed as their prisoners,all you can hear is sighs,groans ,sobs ,the lamentations of the damned ;the executions still pack real wallop ,true to Dreiser's words :"the keepers in charge of the deadly work(......)drawing the heavy green curtains with which the cells were equipped so that none might see the fatal procession..."
When we first meet Clyde in his jail,he plumbs the depth of despair;his face is almost indifferent.Reverend Ducan McMillan,the key figure of the final pages ,will help him redeem his soul and find back a certain serenity:"mama(.....) I die resigned and content (...) God has heard my prayers.He has given me strength and peace" But Dreiser's words are ambiguous "but to himself adding:had he?"
An admirable scene shows Clyde in his cell,with the good book on his lap , with two superimposed faces :McMillan chanting ,and the black convict singing a harrowing "sometimes I feel like a motherless child" .
Warner Bentivegna perfectly conveys Clyde's emotions ,as he runs the whole gamut ,from despair and incredulity to resignation and faith;his beaming face shows he does not care anymore about his lawyers' useless appeal or about the human governor's possible clemency;matching him every step of the way is Lilla Brignone 's Mater Dolorosa .The chemistry between them is nothing short of perfect.
On the other hand ,Stuart's presence is irrelevant:never in a month of Sundays ,one of those young rich kids ,afraid of scandal,would stoop to visiting an inmate on death row ;like Sondra's appearance in a dream -she sent him a short letter in the book- or a vision of Roberta on the fatal door ,this is pure soap opera.
Now for the ending: we should not forget it was made by Italians ,at the time of Vatican 2,and I wonder whether these pictures of a quiet nature ,and a clear sky ,enhanced by heavenly choirs, do not misinterpret Dreiser totally: Clyde has found peace of mind in faith but I'm not sure he approves of this way of life (or death): his last lines show mom and her grandson (remember the pregnant sister in the first episode )in the mission :"she must be kind to him,(...) not restrain him too much ,as maybe,maybe,she had (....) for HIS sake" .
In fact ,Dreiser was against all organized religions and praised the Chinese who had lived thousand of years without religion. The purpose of his book was not to glorify religion but to show the gap between the folks on the hill ,who kill time with all pleasures and enjoyments ,live in luxury and legally exploit their fellow men ,and the working class where time kills you,where you are sweating and maybe one day join the American dream ,but if you succeed ,you will always be a parvenu (the word is used in the miniseries);religion is Clyde's opium in the last days of his short life,it cannot be any other way.
(thanks Mr Stevie Wonder: all my titles of the seven episodes were taken from " a place in the sun")
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?