Why am I talking about Ivan Ilych again? It’s because of all those flags I set up over a month ago. This is . . . this is the series of blog posts I thought of on 9/11. Which I am writing now (timely, no?)
And it’s because Chris and I have been debating whether or not to have a deathbed scene in our movie. We’re thinking no.
The reasons for a deathbed scene are obvious — and exemplified by my students’ reactions to Ivan Ilych. People want a deathbed scene. In a movie, or a story, about a guy who’s dying, people expect a deathbed scene. Not only do people want a deathbed scene…they want that scene to play out a certain way. They want the characters to say certain things. They want the dying person to say that he’s had a good life. That everything is going to be okay. They want it recorded and they want some meaningful stuff to go down. They want to hear the last words. And a deathbed scene like the one in Ivan Ilych isn’t good enough. It’s good enough for Tolstoy and it’s good enough for Ivan and it’s good enough for God. But we don’t think it’s good enough for us.