A few years ago I saw a movie, The Life Before Her Eyes, which intrigued me very much. I was very taken with it and it is one of my favorite movies for many reasons. I wrote a review – which you can read HERE – and I also wrote about what I thought the meaning of the movie was to me. But I lost that part – grrr. Recently I suggested it to a friend and I wanted to discuss some of this with her, but I had a hard time recalling the details. So, I watched it again today and took notes. Below are just some random things I noticed while watching the second time and also some thoughts on how I interpreted the movie. Know that you should NOT read this is you have not seen the movie. It will ruin it and it is a great movie which I would hate to ruin for anyone.
At least three times in the movie (in car with daughter, in car with Maureen and whistled by mailman) was the song “She’s Not There”
Choose Life bumper sticker on Maureen’s car
Art subjects in (grown) Diane’s art classes – Difference between real and imagined & Who are we, where are we going (Gauguin – symbolist artist – known for quasi religious symbolism – clashing often with Catholic church)
While swimming alone, ultrasound noises while touching her belly
She wears the same bangle bracelets as young and grown Diane
Butterflies are often pictured – drawings, tattoos, actual – butterflies signify going from one life to the next – metamorphosis
Twice it is repeated, the scene when Maureen says something about the rain crushing the flowers and some stay crushed and some pop back up.
Water is a big element in this movie. Water usually symbolizes life, death and rebirth. Through pool scenes to rainstorms and at the end – the seemingly raining of water in the bathroom water seems a constant theme. Diane asks Maureen is people evaporate like mist and just disperse into the universe “I wonder who were breathing in now” she says tongue in cheek. This ‘mist’ is common as is the consistent displays of insects, pollen and flowers in the movie. Very detailed, colorful closeups. Many whom have had NDEs (near death experiences) have reported that once they realized they were dead, they suddenly understood that all energy is equal…meaning people, cats, insects…we are all one and none is more important than the other.
As grown Diane runs through the woods towards the end searching for her daughter Emma, young Diane walks through the mock cemetery for the ‘unborn’ searching for the name Emma (a name she picked out earlier in the movie when talking about baby names). Many people think that because of these metaphors, the movie was trying to deliver an anti-abortion theme. I do not believe this is the case and actually quite opposite – well not opposite, but vastly different. I believe the choosing the art and discussions of Gauguin were no coincidence.
I think it s just an honest take on a girl’s journey through guilt and feelings of unworthiness. She is guilty about her abortion. I highly doubt anyone who has had the procedure does so without guilt. She is ashamed of her (sexual) behavior and this is why the word “slut’ is so upsetting to her. In the moments at the end when her imagined future life is going ‘before her eyes’, she is seeing it through the eyes of one who feels guilt and shame. I think this is why she projected that her future husband would cheat. This is why as grown Diane she states “I don’t deserve this”.
In one of the final scenes, we see Diane and Maureen attending a lecture given by grown Diane’s professor husband – the same man Diane is talking about as they walk into the bathroom (she says she keeps calling and hanging up). This is what he says which has her fixated during his speech:
“Begin to be now what you will be hereafter….Our deepest guide in our beginning to BE is imagination. Our ability to project and mold our future selves from the myriad of possibilities before us.”
The entire experience of grown Diane is young Diane’s projection of what her life would have been. She projected the guilt – both survivors and about the abortion, her unworthiness as explained above, her hiding daughter…all what she in that flash projected what her life would have been like if Maureen had been the victim.
What do you think?