Friday, April 7, 2017

ALWAYS COUNT ON YOU, CHARLIE













“There was a time I could see.
And I have seen. Boys like these, younger than these,
their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. 

But, there is nothing like the sight... of an amputated spirit.
There is no prosthetic for that. You think you're merely sending
this splendid foot soldier...back home to Oregon with his
tail between his legs, but I say you are... executing his soul!”

- From Frank Slade’s monologue in ‘Scent of a Woman’


In the movie, ‘Scent of a Woman’ (1992), Al Pacino plays the role of a retired Army officer – Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. He has lost his vision while juggling with the grenades in one of the eccentric drunken-bouts while still serving in Army Barracks. On the other side, the 17-year-old Charlie Simms (played by Chris O’Donnell) is a student of Baird, an exclusive New England prep school. Most of his peers hail from affluent families while Charlie hails from a lower-middle class family and has made it to Baird purely on scholarship. He has imbibed in him some fine values… hard-work, commitment, honesty and, above all, courage and integrity.  He has an ambition to pursue his studies in Harvard once schooling in Baird is over. What brings Slade and Charlie together is Charlie’s up-coming home visit for Christmas. In order to pay for the flight cost, he accepts a temporary job during Thanksgiving week-end looking after Slade, who is blind…

It is a beautiful story!

Of all the scenes in ‘Scent of a Woman’ – which won for Al Pacino the Oscar as the Best Actor – I am blown away by the high-voltage speech – a monologue – by Frank Slade…

Slade has accompanied Charlie to appear before a Disciplinary Committee in the school…

What is Charlie accused of?

Charlie and George Jr., another student, have witnessed a prank set up by a group of their classmates on the school headmaster, Trask, who presses Charlie and George to disclose the names of the culprits. Trask offers a bribe to Charlie, a letter of recommendation that would virtually guarantee his acceptance to Harvard. However, Charlie continues to remain silent but appears conflicted!

Finally, Charlie tells Slade about his complications at school. Slade, initially, advises Charlie to disclose the names of his classmates and go to Harvard, warning him that George will probably get away because of his wealthy father’s influence. However, as the Disciplinary Committee has summoned Charlie, Mr. Slade decides to accompany him as his guardian and counsel…

Despite Slade’s advice, Charlie has chosen to remain silent, thereby invited the risk of being expelled from the school… Slade’s speech is in Charlie’s defence…

It is blunt, crude and fierce… Yet, it leaves us all inspired for a better life... 

Yes, I play this speech in our summer P.D. programme… knowing very well, that crudeness is part of life!






GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Internet
Video: YouTube

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