• Dadwagon on Facebook
  • Dadwagon on Twitter
  • Dadwagon RSS feed

What Almost Made Me Cry Today: Killer of Sheep

February 28th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in What Almost Made Me Cry Today

Stan (Henry G. Sanders) looks like he's about to cry.

Usually, when I write these “What Almost Made Me Cry Today” episodes, they revolve around some movie I’ve just watched on an airplane. Well, today’s is no different—except that the movie was quite unusual. Most airplane movies are of the recent-blockbuster type. Or, if the plane has a complicated entertainment system, there’s some inoffensive classic like “The Wizard of Oz” or “Caligula” “Big.”

Well, on my Air Canada flight home from Montreal last night, the “Classics” section of the entertainment system included a big surprise: “Killer of Sheep.”

Unless you’re a film d00d, you’ve probably never heard of it. But the 1977 movie, directed by Charles Burnett, is amazing. Shot in black and white in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, it loosely tells the story of a family led by Stan, whose long hours of work at a slaughterhouse have left him exhausted, insomniac and anhedonic. For about 88 minutes, we see his kids play in the dust of vacant lots, and we watch Stan try to buy an engine for the shell of a car he plans to fix up. It’s thoroughly depressing, especially one scene in which Stan dances with his wife and then, when she kisses him, he pushes her away. Totally heartbreaking.

But the part that almost made me cry comes a few minutes later, when Stan’s daughter, who’s maybe 6, comes to play with him. He’s bouncing her on his knee and, for the first time in the whole movie, starting to smile. From the other room, his wife watches, nearly bursting into tears, happy her husband can take joy in something but miserable she can’t bring him that joy herself. Oh man.

I probably would’ve cried right there, but I was distracted. At just that moment, the plane was flying down the length of the island of Manhattan, and at 8pm the city was completely lit up. Is there any more beautiful sight than that, electrified New York on a clear night? As we circled around the city and back toward LaGuardia, I could even pinpoint my house in Brooklyn and imagine my wife and kid inside. No need to almost-cry anymore.


Leave a Response

tips/suggestions/grievances

Recent Comments

  • Dee: As one of the impressed moms there last night, and also because my kid ate 3 bowls of that bolognese, thanks for...
  • Drew Wallner via Facebook: I’m totally making this when we get back from holiday travel, I even just got a...
  • Matt: Whoops! Just put that back in. The recipe editor has been fired.
  • Ed Lilly: Looks great – thanks for posting! One question – you did not specify putting the meat back into...
  • Maks: I’m against baby yoga for sure, but want to say something regarding that author is a little wild about...

DadWagon Reads!

DadWagon

Do you show this to your kids?

AP Images

An unnamed gunman gestures after shooting the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at a photo gallery in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Turkish police shot and killed the gunman, Turkish station NTV reported. Russia's ambassador to Turkey has died after being shot in Ankara, according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. #APPhoto by Burhan Ozbilici

Story developing: http://apne.ws/2hRY0rH

Dec 19th, 2016 7:32pm • No Comments

"They watch their mothers and fathers overdose and die on the bathroom floor. They live without electricity, food or heat when their parents can’t pay the bills. They stop going to school, and learn to steal and forage to meet their basic needs."

The Children of the Opioid Crisis

wsj.com

Left behind by addict parents, tens of thousands of youngsters flood the nation’s foster-care system; grandparents become moms and dads again

Dec 16th, 2016 2:11pm • No Comments

Don't forget the gift receipt(s)!

A Gift for Every Type of Dad (That You Can Buy on Amazon)

nymag.com

Including cricket-flour protein bars, ice-cold beer chillers, and an air fryer that uses hardly any oil.

Dec 9th, 2016 3:27pm • No Comments

As Ryu Spaeth pointed out, the only thing worse than "Papa" is the pronunciation "paPA." PERISH THE THOUGHT.

DadWagon

“I just think ‘dad’ and ‘mom’ are very Saved by the Bell-ish,” said Will Grose, 36, a Brooklyn father of three boys under the age of 5.

Nov 30th, 2016 5:20pm • 1 Comment