I first heard e.e. cummings’ poem “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in” in a German commercial for Parkinson’s, which I stumbled upon by chance. In the commercial, the poem is beautifully read by an older German actor as the filmmakers take us on the visual journey of a father’s relationship with his daughter as she grows into adulthood, is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and then has to cope with the gradual deterioration of her body and the knowledge that her father will not always be there to protect her.
What resonated with me so profoundly was this idea: The most important people in our lives we carry with us always. Even if they are no longer with us, they live forever in our hearts. As cummings more eloquently puts it: “anywhere / i go you go, my dear.”
Films always seem to have their own timing. For several years now, I have been interested in exploring the intimate moment in two people’s lives right before they separate. And then to see them again at a later time in their lives when they are apart, but still affected by each other.
Memory is fragmented. We remember sensations, feelings, pictures, our own lives in short movies, and I wanted to explore that on screen. I had written a sketch of the Tom and Kate scene, knew that I was drawn to 1940s or 1950s as a backdrop, but was unsure of where to take the characters. When I connected that to cummings’ poem, which I’ve grown to cherish, the story started to come to life. The poem becomes almost a window through time offering the viewer (and even the characters Tom and Kate) a glimpse into the future.
So the film also asks: If you could see your future, would you make the same choices in your life? The most important things are the hardest to say, and for Kate her gift of cummings’ words is very much her way of saying what she cannot to Tom. And that is: You are always in my heart no matter what happens.
There’s a universality in this message that I hope will speak to audiences and make them examine their own lives. The story follows two lovers, but it also rings true to any relationship: parents, siblings, friends, the people in our lives who appear and suddenly for a brief moment or a lifetime become the most important people in our lives.
Though the film has a bittersweet ending, for me it is also still a hopeful one. Does he live or die? Does he find his way back to her? Has she already moved on with her life? To close with what my co-author e.e. cummings writes:
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life
-writer/director Nick Ronan