Marlon Brando: Let Us Dance Again

Marlon Brando with family dog/Art Shay/1951/

Nostalgia was once considered a disease--a disease of demonic origin, a sickness of the soul, hypochondria of the heart. Nostalgia kept people in the past, a particularly happy and cherished and golden portion of the past, and out of the fields or the kitchen or the purview of those who needed them.

Marlon Brando told me, in 1990, that he was quite ready to abandon the current year, and he might consider entering all future years protected and cossetted by the memories of earlier, better years.

"Find a year," he told me, "when you felt centered or better or clear-eyed. Things--good things--were happening or just about to happen. Listen to the music of that year; re-read the books you read that year; reach out to the people still living from that year. I'm all for re-setting oneself. I have to do it for myself."

There were people associated with Brando's good years, and he sent me to speak to them. Not so much about him, although that's where they were always headed, but about what the year meant to them.

"I want my story to join with theirs in some way," he told me. "We're getting old and weak and tired and quite unnecessary, and I think a visit to a good year will be good for us.  It's what you're doing for Tennessee. Do it for all of us. Light up the big, beautiful room and let us dance again."

The room is lit, and the music begins.

©  2014  James Grissom


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