Saturday, May 19, 2012

Music theater on film - "Arlington"

Music videos have been around since MTV first cracked the airwaves in 1981 and reviewing one might be seen as a stretch for a theater blog, but a short film called Arlington dramatizes a deeply-felt piece of music by well-known singer/guitarist Lisa Nemzo (click here for her website) and I call it music theater on film.

The CD cover for "Arlington," by Lisa Nemzo

It was inspired by the story of Theresa Arciola, mother of Private First Class Michael Arciola, killed in Iraq in 2005, who visited her son's grave at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C. five times a year so he "wouldn't be forgotten." (For the film's website - click here)

The film and the lyrics in one stanza contrast the capital's lovely blooming cherry blossoms with a horse-drawn casket borne to the plain grass field and small white tombstones of the "saddest acre in our nation."

As the song so truthfully says, it's "never a destination," and that phrase caused me to have a new image of the national resting place for our warriors - an ironically beautiful place, but a place you may not want to visit, unless you must. And for the warriors themselves? The unwished-for conclusion to their individual journeys.

The film's images are profoundly simple - the mother, played by Nemzo, looking at the model airplanes in her son's former bedroom - scenes of military comradeship - flowers at a grave. The most emotional image, for me, and a brilliant piece of theatrical expressiveness, was a fade in of the rows of stones, then a person in uniform behind each one, the living embodiment of sacrifice, then a fade out to the plain stones.

No surprise that the film won Best Merit Award for Best Music Video at the Accolade Film Festival this year in La Jolla, Calif. Well-deserved praise for director Mary Ann Skweres, cinematographer Rachel Wyn Dunn and co-editor Bob Bayless.
Lisa Nemzo

Lisa Nemzo will be playing Arlington  at the Mamapalooza Festival (click here for more information) on Sunday, May 20 in New York City.

The song and film were created to benefit the David Lynch Foundation (click here), which supports Transcendental Meditation training for vets and at-risk students, among others, and the Global Stress Initiative (click here).

Arlington writes an essential chapter in the American book of music and creates a poignant, thoughtful, gentle space in which to meditate upon heroes, warriors and those who love them.