“Be careful what you do to get what you want” –Alvin Dewey to Truman Capote
I am a terrible movie watcher. I am so used to having several constant streams of action to process during my day (taking notes in one class while finishing the homework for another and keeping up a steady stream of wry commentary for the boy sitting next to me), that watching a movie simply doesn’t feel like enough. I flip open my laptop and begin looking up the actor’s credits. Then my email must be checked, and facebook, too. Or, if I’m feeling rather productive, I’ll simply pull out a book and read while the movie flashes on in the background.
Due to these distractions, movies rarely have even the slightest chance of ‘captivating’ me. So I was rather taken aback when I realized, halfway through the movie Capote, I was actually listening. I clung to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s high, fanciful voice like it was a cold drink in the desert. The flat landscapes of Kansas mirrored the sharp cuts from image to image– as if the story was being told in photographs. Just as Capote’s famous non-fiction book, In Cold Blood, resonates with a fierce humanity, the movie underscores the similarities between Truman and the first-degree murderers. You are even led to feel distaste for Truman’s interview methods, as he misleads Perry in order to dig out the rest of the story. There is a bitterness in all wrongdoing.
Reading the end notes on the film, I discovered that Truman Capote never wrote another book, and that he died of complications related to alcoholism. Throughout the movie, Capote was rarely seen without a glass of something or other in hand. It became a part of his character, a hardly acknowledged accessory. So did the alcohol kill him? Or did his conscious actions throughout his life lead to his own death? The two previous hours of film would attest to the second. We are all subject to the same violent intents; it is our moral stature and our conscience and our trust in the strength of God that protects us from submitting to sin.We cannot fall out of line a little, without finding ourselves on the wrong path entirely. “Be careful what you do to get what you want”, a friend said to Capote. Capote loved his spotlight, his Bergdorf scarves. In exchange for the flashing lights, though, he sacrificed any chance of a further career, family, or stable life.