The brides and grooms in Doug Block’s documentary, march down the aisle, and recite their vows. They laugh, cry, greet guests, kiss each other, their parents, relatives and friends. Their eyes shine. Their hair is perfect. They dance, bask in their joy, look forward to a future of happiness, even bliss. And celebrate love and marriage in an endless barrage of toasts.
Twenty years later: 112 Weddings
Fast forward to seven, ten, fourteen years later. How well have these couples fared? Are they together? Divorced? On the cusp of something new? Block, revisits the beginning, middle and end of some of the 112 Weddings he filmed starting 20 years ago when he needed to make some extra money to support himself and his career.
The result is beyond brilliant. He sought to make wedding videos, and instead found the messy facts of real life, hidden in the spaces between words, cannily revealed by the nods, the eye rolls, the hand gestures, the point and counterpoint of dialogue in distress, and conversation that emerges from between the pores of resentment, laughter and love — that place where life and dreams bounce off each other and leave us wondering: what happened? Where did it go? Where did I go? How do I get it back?
During the interviews the women fare better than the men. They are emotionally smarter, more sensitive, more willing to listen and compromise, while the men get lost in their egos and retreat into soured disappointment with the way things are. Like the husband who loses some weight and goes from being the unsought after chubby boy to the desirable middle aged man with money, departing his 14 year marriage to seek out a more worshipful woman who is grateful for his precious presence. And the one who begins with a wife-rant. Then finally admits it was not his wife who was crazy off the wall and needed to be “committed,” it was him. But there are some who rise to the occasion with grace, compassion and a loving concern that never wavers.
A Man of Grace
The most stunning among these is a man whose wife was, only a few years before, an exceptionally beautiful bride, and now suffers from a depression so dark and deep she seems stuck at the bottom of a well with no desire to climb out. She sits immobile in their living room, ignoring their young child and her husband as he points out her fragile victories. Telling her that each step forward she takes is precious, no matter how small, that he has faith in her, and will be there for her no matter what. But she’s unable to accept his stalwart praise and counters his faith with a blank despair. Yet he refuses to give up. He wills himself to see her healed. He dwells in possibility.
Movies, Film, Art, Truth
There are too many stories that deserve telling for me to share, and it’s clear that the nature of this film is as much a reflection of the man who made it as the couples who agreed to participate. I suggest that you find a way to see it. You will not be sorry.
Some people make movies. Some make films. Others make art. In 112 Weddings, Block has made art. And beyond that he has captured that elusive, forbidden, much discussed but rarely mastered quality we spend our lives and loves seeking, even when we don’t know it.The truth.
Use the following imagery should you want to live and love in truth..
Close your eyes, breathe out, and see yourself standing at the foot of a hill. At the top of this hill is a house. Follow the path that leads up to the door. Go inside and find a trunk. Open this trunk and see that it is filled with masks. Pull out a mask and put it on. Now find a mirror, and look at yourself. What do you see? How do you feel?
Choose whether to take off the mask or leave it on. Breathe out one time, and open your eyes.
* 112 Weddings will be shown on HBO starting June 30th