What You Need To Know:
5 obscenities and 2 profanities (G_ D___, My G__), female frontal nudity in girlie magazine, sexual immorality, implied suicide, and use of alcohol, but not in excess
Adapted from two separate novels, MRS. BRIDGE (1959) and MR. BRIDGE (1969) by Evan Connell, MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE follows an upper middle-class American marriage through the mid-1930s and 40s, from its early days of fulfillment through its decline.
Walter and India Bridge live in a large, fine house and are rooted in Kansas City country club society. Main Street Americans, they adhere to all the canons of respectability, yet find that modern life in all its guises, war, sexual freedom, psychoanalysis, and the women’s movement, is crashing in upon them.
A starchy and successful lawyer, Mr. Bridge expresses his love through providing for his family: securities, stocks and sound advice. This only goes so far in nourishing a family, though: his wife feels unloved and underappreciated, and his children are distant and rebellious.
After years of family happiness, the high school prom, the boy scout round-up, visits to the local movie house, the children grow up and go their ways. The eldest, Ruth, a high-spirited, sexually-charged girl, departs for the artist bohemia of New York. Her more conventional sister, Carolyn, makes an impetuous marriage, while their brother Douglas joins the army air corps when he is fired up by wartime excitement.
As the years pass, Mr. Bridge, always set in his ways, grows more rigid. Mrs. Bridge, however, becomes more dependent and vulnerable, as the repressive constrictions of such a one-sided relationship begin to take their toll. Yearning for her husband’s love, Mrs. Bridge is frustrated by his inability to express it through the words she longs to hear. She dimly knows there is more to life than her husband, yet cannot quite reach out beyond the existence that has been given her.
Joanne Woodward gives a wonderful performance as the ever cheery, but unhappy Mrs. Bridge. Sympathies clearly reside with the plight of intelligent women of that generation, as Woodward reveals the bursting human spirit entrapped by a world she has served and accepted.
Marriages of this type have been called “traditional,” and here their “squareness” has been made appealing, plausible and interesting. MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE depicts the Bridges as neither hypocrites, nor fakes. Instead, the film grants the Bridges the dignity that they, and most people of their time, place and class, worked so hard to achieve. However, it is the mere surface of their lives that we see, and while it is shown as eminently worth honoring no matter how threatened from below, the Bible teaches that external things shall pass away.
1 Peter 3:3-4 states that there is one thing that does not fade away, the “beauty… of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Since the drama does deal with a theme of fading passion, the Bible’s beauty tips (from Proverbs 31) are in order. That is, the way to have beautiful hands is by serving others. Beautiful hands are those that are open to the poor and extended to the needy. For beautiful lips, have the law of kindness on your tongue, and beautiful eyes can be had by watching over the affairs of your household.
Like most Merchant/Ivory films, MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE is a beautiful character study, devoid of excessive sex and violence, which offers a great deal of insight and entertainment for the discerning moviegoer. However, to digress from the pleasant quality of their filmmaking, it must be noted that the movie has a very subtle undertone of discontent, envy and rebellion. Most viewers will overlook these aspects of the movie and appreciate the good therein, but it would be worth while to discuss the ramifications of such emotional themes when pursued to their logical conclusion.
Like the biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden, in whom Satan sowed the seeds of discontent with promises that they could be as gods knowing good and evil, the subtle message here is that Mrs. Bridge is missing out on life and that freedom from this constricting, traditional marriage would liberate her innate brilliance.
Not so. As documented by the studies of Dr. Diane Medved, clinical psychologist, reported in her book THE CASE AGAINST DIVORCE, divorce, adultery, work outside the home, and the other proposals of the pundits of envy will not alleviate discontent, but only focus it on a different irritant. The only viable solution for Mrs. and Mr. Bridge is freedom from the alienation of sin through a new life in Jesus Christ. Any solution other than redemption in Jesus Christ is futile. Furthermore, only in Christ is the marriage relationship an opportunity for both the man and the wife to fulfill the gifts and talents that God has bestowed on them.
Of course, as sodomites James Ivory and Ismail Merchant are not interested in preserving the traditional family, but rather in promoting alternate couplings. However, in fact, sodomites can not form families; they do not have children; they are the end of the line–a form of physical and spiritual suicide which is an anathema to God and leads straight to hell.
Enough for this digression. MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE is a beautiful film, but beware the subtle, understated wiles of the Adversary, for the Lord our God has told us in Hebrews 13:5: “[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
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