I’ve always really disliked the movie Cast Away (the one with Tom Hanks living on the island for four years?). I don’t know why. It was an excellent film, but it depresses the hell out of me and I generally won’t watch it if I come across it on TV.
Anyway, it was on last night and Connor and mr myn got sucked into it. And I thought it might be a bit heavy of a subject for a 7 year old, but he was fairly insistent about wanting to know what happened.
And yes, he got extremely upset. Not because the main character was in a plane crash, or struggling to live alone or trying to escape off the island. Or because he came home and found out the rest of the world had moved on without him.
No, Connor was actually completely heartbroken over the loss of Wilson.
Full on sobbing over it for several minutes, in fact. It floored me, because even though he had missed some of the larger themes of the film, he completely got the point of someone being so alone and isolated that they had to befriend an inanimate object. He was just beside himself when the Tom Hanks character had to choose between saving his “friend” or going back to the raft.
Maybe at this age it’s easier for kids to get that, simply because they do that all the time with their toys or imaginary friends. It’s almost like Wilson becomes the grown up version of the Velveteen Rabbit, in the sense that he is made real through the perception of the audience and the character. And actually, it’s a brilliant move to have something like that in a movie that only holds a solitary character for such a huge chunk of time, since it fosters a believable reason to have one-sided dialogue. (As opposed to The Black Stallion, for example, where they went the opposite direction for the first half of the movie and there’s almost no dialogue at all – and it’s just as brilliant.)
Lucky for me, Amazon actually sells Wilson volley balls, so I’ll probably get Connor one at some point. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to rack my brain for stories where inanimate objects actually become characters. (And I’m not talking Christine or Chucky type stuff. Yes, the objects are inanimate…but they’re possessed and kill people. Not quite what I’m looking for.) The obvious would be something like a doll, like Emily in A Little Princess, or the Velveteen Rabbit, as noted above, but I’d love to hear of other examples, particularly in more adult works, if anyone has them.