Essay on Old Age and New England Countryside

Words: 1501
Pages: 7

“Young@Heart” is a documentary that takes you to Northampton, MA, and presents a glimpse into the lives of the members of the Young at Heart Chorus. The setting is primarily in Northampton, MA, with several scenes of the beautiful New England countryside. The film, which was directed by Stephen Walker for the Fox Searchlight production company, opens with a scene from one of the group’s concert performances. The film’s opening images are of an old, gray-haired woman that is performing a rock song by the Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” It creates an impression of senior citizens that are behaving badly. But as the film continues on, it reveals more about some of the group’s individual members; their old, interesting
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We also meet Steve Martin, an ex-marine, that’s nearly eighty years old. A scene in his bathroom shows him nude except for his boxer shorts. His appearance manifests an active, healthy, lifestyle, and most men would only dream of having such a physique at the age of eighty. He lives his dream; he drives a convertible sports car and enjoys life with Mary Lou, his “squeeze,” who refers to him as a “sexy beast.” Despite the various health issues that many of the members have to struggle with, they thoroughly enjoy every moment of their senior lives and make the most of each day.
Even though most of the members of the chorus prefer classical music, their middle-aged director, Bob Cilman, selects challenging music styles for their upcoming concert performance. The repertoire is a set of rock’s greatest hits, capturing the sheer joy of singing as well as the singular poignancy of aging. Singing songs they shouldn't even know, at an age when they're expected to be sitting quietly somewhere, the group subverts all accepted notions of old and young. The incongruity of seeing the dignified oldsters singing something by the alternative rock band “Sonic Youth” or soul singer “James Brown” is a durable gimmick: wry and rueful. Songs by artists like David Bowie, Manfred Mann and Allen Toussaint take on a new dimension when performed by these foot-stomping senior citizens. They have the ability to make well-known songs like “Staying