The other night at the Quad on 13th Street in Manhattan, I had a chance to watch Four Seasons Lodge directed by Andrew Jacobs. It wasn’t my idea. It was my wife’s. I ran into the theater, hassled and overwhelmed by the week’s demands. I was twitching away on my Blackberry, as I was walking into the theater–such was my enthusiasm to see a movie. To tell you the truth, I was up for dinner rather than a movie.
In the first few minutes I realized that this definitely was not the film for me. Sixty-years olds, like myself, are easily frightened by watching a group of older people in their 70s and 80s struggling with their health and issues of quality of life. Trust me, the last thing I needed was a documentary about aging in a bungalow colony in the the Catskills. I vacation in the Catskills, but not a bungalow—a house on the appropriate trout stream with a jacuzzi, a mile away from the tennis courts. I remember bungalows, remember them vividly, I remember Old route 17 to the Catskills, I remember beach chairs, I remember linoleum on the floor, I remember the Red Apple Rest, I remember my father driving up on Friday evenings to be with us on the weekend. I remember bungalows and definitely remember the Catskills. But somehow I didn’t need to be taken back there, it had just gotten a bit too seedy. But I was immersed in the world of the Four Seasons Lodge.
In a few minutes, I was immersed in the life of the Holocaust survivors who 30 years ago bought a place in the Catskills and sustained themselves all these years, dancing and frolicking as light as children, approaching life with a whimsical air that makes you soon forget the terror that underlies every breath they take. These are the last of the Holocaust survivors, and they claim their right, their place in the sun.
No matter their age and their personal history nothing could overshadow their capacity to be alive. Four Seasons Lodge is about leadership, personal leadership, the ability to persevere while not forgetting. It is about personalizing collective memory while not being overwhelmed by it. It is about courage without drama. It is about the capacity to be proactive when taking any action seems futile. This film intensifies memories that have begun to fade. It brought back the shadows that are not all pleasant and, at times, foreboding. It made me want to get up in the theater and thank each person on the screen. The best Thanksgiving movie I’ve ever seen.