Hemingway and Silver Linings Playbook

February 17, 2013
Scene from  the motion picture, Silver Linings Playbook

Scene from the motion picture, Silver Linings Playbook

Hemingway was a tough editor on his own material. He cut adjectives and prose back with a sculptor’s eye. What did Michelangelo say? “I see the angel in the marble and carve until I set him free?”  But Ernest Hemingway said something even more mystical. He said that the stuff you cut out from the prose  never  truly leaves. Hemingway believed it was swimming underneath in the deepest ether of the words still left. Hemingway called his style the iceberg theory: the facts float above water; the supporting structure and symbolism operate out of sight.

Hemingway posited that you could be spare in wordage, yet the subtext spills forth. What was Hemingway’s favorite short story told in six words? ” For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”  Immediately, we sense the sorrow  running beneath.

I look at Hemingway’s theory in the wonderful picture, “Silver Linings  Playbook”. It is a motion picture of great power. It is beautifully played by an ensemble cast of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver.  It is the only picture in the Academy Awards this year to be nominated in each thespian category. It was also intuitively directed and written by David O’Russell.

Which brings me back full circle to Hemingway. God was cut out of the story when David O’Russell adapted the book into a screenplay which became the movie.

In the book, “Silver Linings book” by  Matthew Quick, God was a featured player. During the years he spends in a neural health facility, the protagonist formulates a theory about silver linings: he believes his life is a movie produced by God. His mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife.

“If you keep doing good, humble work,” said writer director David O’Russell recently,” it will attract good people to do that work with you”. You indeed sense the goodness of the themes in Playbook; you experience mercy, forgiveness, humility and restraint — the fruits of the very Spirit of which  Galatians 5:22 speaks.

One person who saw the picture  last night told me,  “I makes me happy to be alive.”

Even though the name “God” has been removed from the movie, isn’t God still there beneath the iceberg?