"Good things come to those who wait." Such a short sentenced filled with so much feeling. That sums up the feel of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", the film which is the subject of this week’s review.
Have you ever taken a moment to really think about what an amazing form of art film is? Some films are funny, some are scary, some are romantic, but the best kind of films, in my opinion, are the ones that make you see the world through someone else's eyes, if only for two hours. The films that move you, the ones that make you think, the ones that make you question your decisions in life.
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is one of those films and as if that weren't enough, I've found that throughout the years every time I watch it, I find new meaning. That is the true art of film, a movie so open to your own personal interpretation that its meaning can evolve as you do.
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is a 2001 American musical film based on the stage musical of the same title about a fictional rock band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The film was adapted and directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who also portrayed the title role and is chock full of outstanding music and lyrics by Stephen Trask.
The film follows the story of Hansel Schmidt, a transgender wanna-be rock star living in Communist East Berlin, on his bizarre quest to find his soul mate. Unlike most generic love stories where two people meet and fall in love, Hansel's story was much more complex. Every time he fell in love he lost a piece of himself (sometimes literally), and by consequence each one of these encounters molded the person he was to become. His search for true love eventually leads him on an amazing journey of self-discovery.
I'm going to get a bit spoilerish now to get to the point of my review, so if you haven't watched the film, I apologize if I reveal too much. Watch it anyways, I guarantee you'll find a different meaning, I always do.
The character of Hansel is fascinatingly complex. He is very intense, the "all or nothing" type of person, and often made decisions based on feeling rather than logic. At the beginning of the story, he is living in East Berlin with his mother when the Berlin Wall was still up. He yearned for freedom. He yearned to find true love. He yearned to become someone else and that's when he meets Luther Robinson, an American soldier stationed in East Berlin. Luther and Hansel fall in love and Luther offers Hansel the one thing he's been yearning for most, freedom. He offers to marry him and take him back with him to the United States. There was a snag, of course, Hansel is a boy. So they come up with this plan to get Hansel a sex change operation and that is when Hedwig Robinson is born. Unlike most transgender individuals, Hansel did not seek the sex change operation because he felt this overwhelming feeling that he was indeed a woman living in a man's body, he did so to achieve a goal. He did so to be able to marry Luther and escape communist East Berlin. His sex change operation was botched and he was left deformed; the price he paid for love and freedom.
One year later, on their wedding anniversary, they are both living in Junction City Kansas and Luther announces that he is leaving Hedwig for another man. The scene is shattering. Hedwig sits on a recliner and the TV is playing in the background as Luther makes his exit. Hedwig is completely in shock, everything seems to be moving in slow motion, and the sound of the TV keeps getting louder. When he focuses on it, it's a news report about the falling of the Berlin Wall. They were detailing how East Berlin was now free and Germany will now reunite. Then the news reporter says "The Germans are a patient people, and good things come to those who wait."
Good things come to those who wait.
The look on Hedwig's face when he hears those words is devastating. All that he sacrificed, all that he changed and lost… all for nothing. The scene is shiver inspiring.
What are you willing to sacrifice for your dreams?
Life is overwhelming, especially when you have dreams, goals, and aspirations that seem so far out of your reach. Sometimes it may even feel like you’re stuck in quick sand and the more you struggle the deeper you sink. But is it really achieving your goal if you lose a part of yourself in the process?
This film reminds the viewer that it’s ok to dream, it’s ok to sacrifice, but what we must never do is forget that although reaching our dreams is spectacular, it's the journey to our goal that makes us or breaks us. Hedwig teaches us to slow down, enjoy the journey, embrace the difficulties, and be watchful not to lose a piece of ourselves in the process. But most importantly it teaches us to never forget that good things come to those who wait.