Film Review: On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson

Film Review

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This is a film review on On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson. Norman’s wife, Ethel, is 69 and “energetic beyond belief” and is dressed in “rolled-up blue jeans and sneakers, a plaid workshirt, and a jacket, a bright scarf on her head.

Norman’s wife, Ethel, is 69 and “energetic beyond belief” and is dressed in “rolled-up blue jeans and sneakers, a plaid workshirt, and a jacket, a bright scarf on her head” (8); this description of her dress shows us how youthful she is: faraway from wearing housecoats and slippers, or elastic-waisted jeans.  Her energy can be seen through actions: she collects firewood (9); picks strawberries (19); skinny-dips and paddles a canoe (46).  Her interactions with the doll Elmer with whom she recalls her youth also portrays her refusal to be old (55), which can also be seen by her on page ten: Ethel describes new neighbors and says “They’re a very nice middle-aged couple.  Just like us.”  Norman replies if these people are like them then “they’re not middle-aged” because “Middle age means the middle, Ethel.  The middle of life.  People don’t live to be 150.”  He continues on to say that Ethel is old and he is ancient.  Ethel dislikes her husband’s jokes about death and dying (15), which shows us her refusal to think about such things.  Norman does have moments where age scares him such as when he cannot remember how to get to the road to pick strawberries, which also worries Ethel who “smiles down at him, sadly” (31); both are aware of age, but Ethel doesn’t like to admit it because it worries her that she is going to lose her husband while it scares Norman because he feels as though admitting his fear will only make life worse.  The other moment when both are confronted with the reality of death that can come swiftly is in the last act when Norman has chest pains: Ethel is afraid she is losing her husband: “Oh, dear God, don’t take him now,” (71).

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