Sunday, March 24, 2019

Film Review: Monte Walsh

I turned 50 this year, it's been a few months since the death of my father, and the news of the world - our relentless march toward a jobless society at the same time collapsing in on itself due to corruption, greed, climate change, fear and ignorance - weighs down on me more with each passing day.

So perhaps tonight was the perfect time to watch Monte Walsh (William A. Fraker, 1970), a movie obsessed with literal death, spiritual death, and the death of a way of life - the world moving on and leaving so many behind.

Monte Walsh, magnificently portrayed by Lee Marvin, is navigating his twilight years, reluctantly learning that the West as he knew it is dying, along with a livelihood he loved. He tries to adjust, but circumstances rob him of any hope of happiness; his world collapses around him, and he rides off to an uncertain fate.

I feel like I'm just a few years away from sharing Monte's fate. Right now, I'm very lucky; I've enjoyed a comfortable life and a rewarding career for some 25 years now, and theoretically I have another 15 years to go before retiring comfortably. My colleagues are brilliant, my manager superb, and I work in a thriving industry.

But 15 years is such a long time. Already, software is automating aspects of my white collar job; it's primitive now, but how long before advances in this kind of technology make communications professionals like me superfluous? Five years? Ten? Can I possibly make it the full 15 to retirement? Or will societal collapse make the point moot?

Marvin, as Monte, never gives up. He keeps his dignity. He remains a sad but inspirational figure by the time the credits roll.

But his world has moved on, nonetheless. 

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