Rain, based on story by Somerset Maugham
Somerset Maugham was the best writer ever, along with Marcel Proust, in the view of this reader- cinephile anyway, and therefore Rain has all the ingredients for an outstanding, brilliant motion picture.
Furthermore, this adaptation benefits from the participation of two of the best actors of the time- the nineteen thirties-one of them being Walter Huston, exceptional in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre- for which he has won an Academy Award- Dodsworth – nominated again, in all, this artist has been nominated four times for the most prestigious, coveted prize in the cinema industry.
The other leading light in…the Rain is another Oscar winner, Joan Crawford, Meryl Streep of her day, celebrated for Mildred Pierce- for which she has won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role- What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and other classic features.
The narrative of this film takes place in South Seas- where the brilliant, genius Somerset Maugham has set many, if not most of his short stories and some novels, including the famous Painted Veil- on the beautiful island of Pago Pago, which seems to be the epitome of earthly paradise for many.
Positive Psychology studies have identified a phenomenon called Hedonic Adaptation, which prevents us from continuing to enjoy a dreamed move to an island in the Pacific- Pago Pago say- California, the Caribbean or other such coveted destinations, where once we will have arrived, we adapt soon to the weather, palm trees, white sand beaches and start to notice the flaws- like electricity cut offs and steep prices, hurricanes that wipe up constructions- see Puerto Rico and other islands where recent typhoons have been disastrous.
On this island, a boat arrives with the characters of the motion picture:
Joan Crawford aka Sadie Thomson, Alfred Davidson aka Walter Huston and his wife, with a couple of other passengers.
They are all stranded on the island when an outbreak of cholera is suspected and the life loving Sadie finds ways to entertain herself and her companions, causing the wrath of the self-righteous Alfred Davidson, who is not just a missionary, but acts like he is one of the prophets of Jesus Himself and has all the authority to impose rules and punishments on others.
Putting things into perspective, it could cause laughter and abhorrence if we were to imagine this fundamentalist in this day and age- where we have alas so many of his type, ready not just to preach, insult and inflict pain and abuse on others with their words, but a number of the most vicious are involved in violence and suicide attacks.
The amusing part might be connected with images of this false prophet in a disco, or just near one school in civilized parts of the world, where young people would have piercings in- well everywhere- and their manifestations would make the protagonist of the Rain seem like Mother Theresa, when placed near teenagers with short skirts, swearing continuously and misbehaving- obviously, for the sick mind of the missionary.
Alfred Davidson becomes so enraged with the “sinful” acts of the woman that he makes it his duty to alert the authorities and demand her expulsion with extreme urgency, which looks like a very unchristian attitude, given that the teachings of the Bible – if this is not a mistaken impression- demand kindness, charity, compassion, summed up in “love thy neighbor” , do not cast the first stone and many quotes from the Holy Book- this reader is not a believer, however, that is the main theme of Christianity.
Furthermore, this maniac is devoted not just to the removal of the poor soul, but he wants it to be immediate and disregarding the circumstances, when he is asked to accept a delay, given that his vicious, mean request has been approved, he refuses with arrogance and carelessness.
He has a few confrontations with his victim – that he of course treats as a woman who must thank him for…saving her soul – and he learns that there would be problems for the heroine if she travels on the next ship, as the missionary insists with acerbity, for she would land in prison for a few years.
The man is not softened or moved by this, on the contrary, with his stupid, psychopathic zeal, he states that the prison term is just what she needs and she has to get to San Francisco to be…again…saved.
The story in its original form is brilliant, stupendous and heavy with significance and explores the changes in the personality, the thinking of the clashing main characters, Sadie undergoes a transformation, if not in substance at least in form, and she appears to have been enlighted, Redeemed by this fervent preacher, who has showed her the light, the way to Redemption, which includes a stint in prison, a fate that she accepts with serenity and luminous transcendence…
Apparently, the others are mesmerized, awed by the change in the happy, singing, ebullient woman, who is now restrained, a nun-like figure, without make up, dressed in clothes suitable for a funeral and awaiting a tragic fate with resignation and Cristian resilience.
At the same time, her opponent or Savior (?) moves with astonishing speed in the other direction, at least to a point, giving in to temptation, the “call of the senses”, feeling attracted by beauty and sensuality – which fro the undersigned seem like saintly, paradisiacal and to be accepted, cherished and enjoyed- with tragic, disastrous consequences for the balance, the fragile equilibrium of a mind that cannot cope with adversity and trauma.
Rain made this cinefile think of the phenomenal Psychologist and Professor Nathaniel Branden and his Psychological Effects of Religion, which are all-negative and have dramatic, calamitous consequences – there is more on the subject here: http://realini.blogspot.ro/2016/04/psychological-effects-of-religion-by.html