Nostalgia de Kirk Douglas

On February 5, 2020, at the age of 103, he died Kirk Douglas. On July 25, at 104, I did Olivia de Havilland, ending the golden age of Hollywood.

Despite being convinced that we are living in the best time in history, why does the Manrique verse of “any past time was better” still seem so true?

Why do black and white movies seem better, the colors of nostalgia?

Why does it seem sacrilege to cut the invisible umbilical cord that unites us with our ancestors, Although such a cordon often prevents us from progressing as a society?

Benito Pérez Galdós In his memoirs he recounts the emotion that met the last survivor of the Trafalgar battle in Santander: “Oh, prodigious find! In the Plaza de Pombo he presented me Escalante a very nice old man, short, in a frock coat and an old-fashioned top hat; he surnamed Prince, and had been cabin boy in the gigantic ship Santísima Trinidad “.

Stefan Zweig’s fed-up with his time was right, as he suffered through the First World War and committed suicide in the Second

Fed up with Stefan Zweig With the time that he had to live, he had justification, since he suffered the First World War and committed suicide during the Second. In a 1918 letter he writes: “I am so seized by an unspeakable bitterness against the age that I believe there were never times more meaningless.”

devotee of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zweig confesses in Yesterday’s world that his head was spinning because, in Vienna in 1910, on the top floor of the house where he lived, “there was still a person on earth on whom the holy gaze of Goethe had settled!”:

“The octogenarian was the daughter of doctor VogelGoethe’s GP, and Ottilie von Goethe had been his godmother of baptism, which was celebrated in the presence of the poet […]. A last and tenuous thread that could be broken at any moment linked, through that fragile earthly figure, the Olympic world of Weimar with the provisional house of the suburb “.
What Albert Einstein He also longed for the world of Goethe, his last girlfriend (Boys) I read to him Fausto, Werther

However, the threads, the umbilical cords, end up breaking. In A lonely walk among the people, Antonio Muñoz Molina gives some examples: “When Walter benjamin arrived in exile in Paris in 1933, there is no one left who would have known Baudelaire“.

Sometimes inexorable breakups lead to despair. Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, who felt himself to be the last Renaissance man in Rome, lamented: “If the time has failed me, what can I do?”

It is the same regret that throbs in Life and destiny, from Vasili Grossman, followed by Joseph Stalin: “Nothing is harder than being a stepson of time. There is no harder destiny than feeling that one does not belong to his time.”

We are nostalgic because the world moves very fast and it seems that it is slipping through our hands

And the same regret, in short, that beats in Miguel Delibes when he writes to Esther tusquets: “Every day I am more convinced that I was born out of time. I must have been my great-grandfather or something like that. I am not to blame for this delay, but I suffer the consequences. In my desire to escape my time, I take refuge in the zarzuela and things like that. “

When I visited the hideout of Ana Frank in Amsterdam, I could still see the horse chestnut that his eyes saw from the attic window (months later it would be blown away by the wind, splitting in two).

Maybe we are nostalgic because the world moves very fast and it seems that it is slipping through our hands. That is why it relaxes us to contemplate the immutable: the sea, the mountains, the ancient olive trees …

During the early years of printing, manuscripts continued to have greater prestige than printed books; just as, centuries ago, old papyrus had greater prestige than parchment. And as the past continues to weigh, today printed books continue to have more prestige than electronic books.

Nostalgia even serves us to explain the triumph of Brexit. According Salman Rushdie, “in England, the idea of ​​identity has become nostalgia, an obsession for a past that never existed, that they want to have again and that led to the Brexit“.

When Kirk Douglas was filming The madman with the red hair in France, he saw old peasants who had met Vincent van Gogh. Impressed by the characterization, they whispered, “He came back.”

During their childhood, Kirk and his six sisters went hungry. Santa Claus never visited his house

During his childhood, Kirk (then called Issur) and her six sisters went hungry. Santa Claus I never visited her home. Kirk’s father, who was a ragpicker, was always distant, so he had to take refuge in the warmth of his mother (illiterate, toothless).

They lived in Amsterdam (New York), where Jews were not allowed to work in factories or in the local newspaper. The Jewish boys couldn’t even deliver the newspaper.

In The rag’s son, Douglas says: “In one corner yes and in another also there was a gang waiting for the little judiezuelo. Things were thrown at me, so I always tried to turn around. Sometimes they caught me and beat me. I will never forget the first time a group of kids punched me, yelling, ‘You killed Jesus Christ!”.

To escape such misery, Douglas went to college, where, paradoxically, he was overwhelmed by “waves of sadness and nostalgia (…). I always wanted to run away to find my identity. Now that I had achieved it, I felt like someone who has been a long time. imprisoned and when the doors are opened and he is released, it only occurs to him to return to his cell“.

At the university he also suffered from anti-Semitism, and went hungry again.

After finishing college, he traveled to New York to become a stage actor. In Greenwich Village, a teacher let him sleep for two months in his small apartment. When Kirk got a job and wanted to pay him, the teacher said something that marked him: “You don’t owe me anything. Others have helped me and I have done the same with you. Now you are the one who owes a debt to others.”

What made him most proud was not his 90 films, but having broken the Hollywood blacklist

Already in Hollywood, the role that would make him a star would be the boxer of The clay idol. However, what he was most proud of was not his 90 films, but having broken the Hollywood blacklist, which Dalton Trumbo defined it as “a concentration camp for screenwriters.”

Trumbo and other screenwriters, due to their ideas close to communism, were first imprisoned and later marginalized by the movie moguls, having to sign with pseudonyms in order to continue working. Until Kirk Douglas dared to put one of those cursed names on the credit titles of Spartacus:

“Dalton, what are you doing at lunch tomorrow?”
–Eeehhh…, I don’t know. What are you thinking about?
–If you don’t have a commitment, why don’t we meet tomorrow at 12:30 in the Universal dining room?

After that meal, after ten years of not doing it, Dalton Trumbo finally walked onto the set: “Thank you Kirk for giving me my name back.”

We long for the golden age of Hollywood, despite Douglas saying it brought out the worst in people

Being an old man, being in Chicago, Groucho marx he observed a couple who circled around him without daring to greet him. At last the woman asked, “Is it you, isn’t it? Is it Groucho?” He nodded. Then she, shyly brushing the arm of her idol, begged him: “Please don’t die. Go on living forever.”

In the movies, in the books, in his own life, Kirk Douglas exuded so much passion that he seemed immortal. As an old man, walking through the garden of his house, he admired roses: “When I was younger and busier, I never perceived the subtle colors of the roses. How could I have missed it for so many years? “

Perhaps nostalgia is a mirage: Zweig longed for the time they lived Beethoven and Goethe, without appreciating as it should the Vienna of his youth, cosmopolitan, refractory to violence and dazzled by art.

We yearn for the golden age of Hollywood, despite Douglas saying it brought out the worst in people: “Hollywood people want to be related to success. If someone goes downhill, they turn away. A terrible insecurity permeates everything.” .

Perhaps a certain person deserves our nostalgia, not a time, because we have been fortunate to live the best decades that human beings have ever known, although some roses have thorns.

*** José Blasco del Álamo is a writer and journalist.

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Nostalgia de Kirk Douglas