I saw the film 20th Century Women last week. It felt like it did when I use to go see bands from the east coast or from overseas. Anticipation filled me. My two sons came with me. We went to the Arclight Theater near Sunset in Hollywood. The films first day of its release in California.
I talked to a few ladies as they left the theater after seeing the film. They had happy looks on their faces. Profound words filled my ears as I listened to the closing credits buzzing the Buzzcocks lyrics in my ears. Pete Shelley’s unique voice was singing the song “Why can’t I touch It.” There was an equal number of men at this event as well.
I was not sure if my two sons, who are 16 and 25 would like the film. After seeing it we had a great talk while driving back to the San Fernando Valley. Oldest son reflected on how the film’s director and writer, Mike Mills, answered some questions for him about a few things. About women in general. This film takes us to a merging of generations. Mike Mills takes this film to a higher place than the usual action films my son goes to see. He compared his film to the film Whiplash. He says both films have quality. They may not be big media monsters, yet they have something real to say about life that has value. It speaks about real life at a different level.
The archetype that came forth for me in 20th Century Women, is the Baubo myth. Currently in our wondrous American culture, I feel that women have been assaulted consciously and unconsciously. Current politics in this country are trying to take a woman’s voice away from the table.
They are talking that taboo talk too. That Demeter, Persephone and Baubo talk from those ancient Eleusinian mysteries. Is it feminism or something more? It is defiantly an ancient archetype where women are sitting at the table. The women in this film are finding their power in the world. As if a giant ancient powerful beautiful flower opens to us who are watching this film. Baubo is not ashamed to show her private parts.
This film is about so much more too. It is about a mother and her son, friendship and growing up. It also reflects on how men and women can be friends and share in that ideal called equality. They can learn from each other! Hopefully finding this needed equality.
There are images of Maxfield Parrish Paintings, and Jean Nate Bottles in this film that are delightful to catch. Mike Mills is taking it to the next level. I hope we are all listening too. I know that the simple things in life can hold the profoundest mysteries. Yet, this is not a simple film. Either is the experience we call life. Life is a tragedy, drama, and comedy all at the same time, with punk rock as a side kick.