This may be slightly off topic, but in the provocative new movie A SINGLE MAN, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood there is an interesting classroom scene where the gay Prof. George Falconier played by Colin Firth is discussing the Aldous Huxley novel AFTER MANY A SUMMER DIES THE SWAN.
AFTER MANY A SUMMER was supposedly a take-off on W. R. Hearst and Marion Davies written in 1939 after Huxley arrived in Hollywood and Welles may have been influenced by it's subject matter when he made CITIZEN KANE.
Welles and Huxley later worked on the script of JANE EYRE and apparently they got along quite well.
In the scene from the script for A SINGLE MAN reproduced below, it is clear that the discussion can be seen as especially relevant to invisible "minorities" such as most gays were back in 1962, the year the movie is set in. Thus it becomes a powerful statement about why gay marriage is such a divisive issue today: the "Imagined fear" factor.
Obviously, if you haven't yet seen the movie, you may not wish to read the following excerpt from the script:
INT. SAN TOMAS COLLEGE – GEORGE’S CLASS
George walks into class and places his briefcase on the desk. Most of the students continue to talk. George sits on the edge of the desk and reaches into his briefcase. He fumbles around for a moment, pauses, and then pulls out a book. He sits quietly with a slight look of disgust on his face staring directly at the talkers as, one by one, they succumb to his silence. Finally George speaks.
“After Many a Summer Dies the Swan.”
I trust you’ve all read the Huxley
novel I assigned almost three weeks
ago? How does the title relate to
He looks around the room as a few hands go up.
Yes, Mr. Mong.
It doesn’t. It’s about this rich
guy who’s afraid he’s too old for
George, irritated by the response of Mr. Mong closes his eyes tightly and takes a deep breath.
MYRON - a dark-complexioned young man with intense eyes and glasses- raises his hand.
Yes, Mr. Hirsch.
Sir, on page 79, Mr. Propter says that the stupidest text in the
Bible is: “they hated me without a cause.” Does he mean the
Nazis were right to hate the Jews? Is Huxley an anti-Semite?
The class stares at George, expecting more from such a provocative question.
No, Mr. Huxley is not an anti-Semite. The Nazis were obviously
wrong to hate the Jews. But their hating the Jews was not without a
cause… But the cause wasn’t real. The cause was imagined.
The cause was FEAR.
Let’s leave the Jews out of this for a moment and think of another
minority. One that can go unnoticed if it needs to.
George looks directly at WALTER, a slightly effeminate young
man, who turns away embarrassed.
There are all sorts of minorities, blondes for example, but a minority
is only thought of as one when it constitutes some kind of threat to
the majority. A real threat or an imagined one. And therein lies the
FEAR. And, if the minority is somehow invisible...
Another glance at WALTER.
...the fear is even greater.
Another student, KENNY tries to find the target of George’s glance, but to no avail.
And this FEAR is the reason the minority is persecuted.
So, there always is a cause. And the cause is FEAR.
Minorities are just people. People like us.
Again a subtle look at WALTER, who shrinks in his seat.
I can see that I’ve lost you a bit.
You know what? Let’s forget about Huxley today.
George places his book on his desk. Several students look up from their notebooks.
Let’s just talk about fear. Fear, after all, is our real enemy.
Fear is taking over our world. Fear is being used as a tool of
manipulation in our society. It’s how politicians peddle policy
and how Madison Avenue sells us things that we don’t need.
Think about it. Fear that we’re going to be attacked,
fear that there are communists lurking around every corner, fear that some little Caribbean country that doesn’t believe in our way of life poses a threat to us.
Fear that black culture may take over the world.
Fear of Elvis Presley’s hips. (beat)
Well, maybe that one is a real fear.
Fear that our bad breath might ruin our friendships...
Fear of growing old and being alone.
George notices a few eyes looking over his shoulder at the clock on the wall which reads 12:05.
Fear that we’re useless and that no one cares what we have to say.
Some shift about uncomfortably in their seats, yet Kenny stares, amazed. George surveys the anxious class, realizing he has lost their attention.
Have a good weekend.
George closes his book, shoves it in his briefcase, and walks out the door as his students gather their things. Kenny gets up to follow after George but Lois corners him to talk.
EXT. SAN TOMAS COLLEGE - ARTS BUILDING. DAY – LATER
George is heading briskly towards the administration building when he hears Kenny’s voice.
Sir! May I speak to you for a minute?
I have to go down to the bookstore.
George pauses allowing Kenny to catch up to him and then the two men begin walking.
Why don’t you talk to us like that all the time?
I don’t think it went over very well.
Man, fear of things gets to me all the time,
but you can’t talk about it with anyone
or you just sound like a fool.
You can’t even talk about it with Lois?
I don’t think she’s afraid of anything.
Everyone’s afraid of something, Kenny.
What are you afraid of sir?
How can you live in Los Angeles and be afraid of cars?
Maybe you can’t.
Sometimes my fear of things can almost paralyze me.
It’s like I get really panic stricken and I feel like I might explode or something... May I ask you a personal question sir?
Do you ever get high?
George stops walking.
How old do I look to you?
Have you ever taken any drugs sir?
Of course, Kenny.
I shouldnʼt really be discussing
this with you on campus Mr. Potter.
George begins walking and Kenny follows.
Itʼs the only way I get by
sometimes. Have you ever tried
Not my drug of choice. I shaved off
one of my eyebrows once on
mescaline. Not a good look for me.
I looked in the mirror - big
mistake if youʼre high on mescaline
- and decided that my eyebrows were
taking over my face and before I
knew it, I had shaved one off. I
wore a band-aid over my eye for
about 6 weeks while my brow grew
in. Very embarrassing.
You didnʼt take it again after
Kenny, have you been listening to
me? I shaved off my eyebrow. I
wanted an experience Mr. Potter,
not a career on stage.
Knowing Welles political views and his love of the Bible, I found A SINGLE MAN to be quite a fascinating movie.
But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, they hated me without a cause.