Cinerama: Cocoon

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama


By Mike Derderian

The old are not only our link to the past but our guides to the future. I see them occasionally in the streets, at work and everywhere, even in my mirror where I try to in-visage myself as an old person.

All I can wish and hope for at that moment is that one-day I’ll end up like Anaheed, an Armenian old woman with quite a literary background, a sage full of wisdom.

Gray hair, sharp inquisitive eyes hidden behind her glasses, a strong voice that resonates a perfect Armenian language to which I tried to accustom myself.

When I first met her I was rather nervous and timid. I’ve always heard of the woman but meeting her face to face made me realize that our friendship will be rather a special one.

In our meetings, we would discuss many things—our lives, thoughts, writings, readings, and irrevocable social issues. In time I began to regard myself as her novice protégée and enjoy her company. .

Some elderly people unlike my Anaheed are sometimes misunderstood because they are simply regarded old and out of date.

“Cocoon” is about that. It discuses how old people are treated and looked at by younger individuals, who don’t happen to realize that some day we will find ourselves in their shoes.

This 1985 film by Ron Howard, is a mixture of a real social phenomenon: which is how old people are treated mixed with an extra-terrestrial plot that will bring out the best in humans.

Due to the nature of plot the whole cast is comprised of elderly actors, whom will light up your hearts with passion despite of their being in the autumn years of life.

Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jack Gilford are the elderly actors, who depict four friends living in a special complex for old people. In other words a nursing home.

As for the younger cast we have Brian Dennehy, Steve Guttenberg, Tahnee Welch, Barret Oliver and linda Harrison.

Ben (Brimley), Art (Ameche), Joe (Cronyn) and Bernie (Gilford) are the friends, who are regarded as the hotshots in the complex despite their age.

Together they break stupid rules, play bowling, and enjoy life especially when they sneak out and go swimming in a vacant villa where an adventure of a lifetime awaits them.

One day they go to find out that the villa has been leased to a group of people among which is Walter (Dennehy) and Kitty (Welch). Is this the end of their swimming days?

No, for such a trivial thing won’t prevent the old brave-hearts from trespassing into the villa and enjoying their dip in that luxurious pool.

In the meantime, our mysterious group rents a boat owned by Captain Jack Bonner (Guttenberg), who is unaware of their true identity and why they are gathering huge rocks from the bottom of the sea.

The rocks are soon to be taken to the pool house, and this is where we come to the climax of the film.  Even though amazed by the fact that the pool is filled with huge boulders the four won’t allow a few rocks to stop them from swimming.

So after a few dips they start to realize that their strength is gradually returning and there moral is pumped up just like being young again.

The clue literally lies in the word Cocoon, which is a hard case-like shell in which a living thing is found, however, don’t be alarmed for it is not evil thing.

Imagine being given the chance to regain your good eyesight, great reflexes and the mood for love, well it is all here in the film through great scenes depicting the old guys and their wives benefiting from this bliss.

Another fascinating scene is when Kitty reveals her true self that lies behind that humane figure to Jack right before they make love. Just imagine the look on his face when he found out who they really were in a very funny scene.

They also reveal themselves to Ben, Art, Bernie and Joe, who nearly had a heart attack, after being caught swimming with the cocoons. To their luck Walter allows them to swim if they promise that they wouldn’t harm the cocoons.

The finale of the film is quite great I’ll leave it for you to find out.

In the end Life, Anaheed and Cocoon brought to my mind Lord Tennyson’s words spoken by Ulysses about old age and the will to go on.

“We are not now that strength which in old days/ moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, / made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/ to strive; to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

P.S: This piece is dedicated to Anaheed Voskereachtian, who passed away a few years ago. Thank you for bothering Anaheed…

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