Editor’s Note: The Water Closet Weekly is a guest column that appears every week in the Collegian.
Only a week into the new semester, recently divorced FILM 100 professor Edwin Montague has subjected his class to multiple screenings of his old home movies. The home movies—which include such VHS classics as Picnic in the Park ’98, Pool Party ’02 and PRIVATE: DO NOT WATCH—have been described by students as being, “uncomfortable,” “kind of a bummer” and “deeply moving”.
“They’re really well shot and I can see why they’re important to the western cinematic canon and all, but it’s a little weird that the professor spends the whole class period weeping,” said Rick Hinson, a student in the class. “He must think it’s really beautiful or something.”
Professor Montague has been with CSU since 1996 when he and his then-fiancé Cathy Cleveland moved out from Oregon—still adorably and ephemerally in love with each other—to pursue work teaching humanities classes at Colorado State University. This semester, Cleveland can be found teaching the American Families class accurately dubbed “Everything Ends.”
Following the week-long, chronological screening of all 42 home movies (the first being Thanksgiving ’95 and the last being Desperate Loneliness and Crushing Addiction: Day 47), Montague lead a class discussion over the visual presentation of thematic ideas presented in the film clips and what, if anything, the male protagonist could have done differently and if it seemed like there was any hope for him following the bleak conclusion.
Many students did not take the discussion seriously. “My favorite character was the dog,” noted freshman Perry McHargue, just trying to get a participation credit. “I’m really glad that the wife got custody of it and also the kids.”
A few students seemed to give the film series the careful, close watching that Montague had no doubt intended.
“I thought it was really interesting watching the tension build between the two main characters as the films progressed,” said Nicholas Baker, a student in the class. “They started out so happy, but then around the time of Davy’s birth, they just seemed to really dislike each other. I really believed that I was watching the slow dissolution of a marriage between two people who were once deeply in love.”
Although bummed by his student’s evaluation of his failed marriage, Montague could not help but feel a hint of joy at the idea that his ex-wife had ever loved him.
Baker continued to dissect the films, saying that he was impressed by how changing the order of the clips caused the viewer to come away with a completely different interpretation of the story.
“If you watch it in reverse order, it’s actually a really uplifting story about a man who overcomes his crippling addictive tendencies and repairs his relationships with his loved ones,” Baker said.
Collegian Guest Columnists Niles Hachmeister, Patrick Hoehne, Chris Vanjonack and Andrew Walker from The Water Closet Weekly can be reached at email@example.com. Look for the WCW online at waterclosetweekly.com.