“Long Day’s Journey into the Night” is a film about family life – about a common destiny, how we cope with problems of personal relationships, how we treat one another inside our families, how the human soul becomes part of the family soul, and how our social life competes and coexists with our family obligations and dedications.

When we today watch the life of Tyrone family more than hundred years ago, we are amazed at how much American family relations have changed. Our main difference from the Tyrones is not how much we have developed in our ability to be wiser in relations with and kinder to people we love and live with. The picture is, rather, the opposite – how much emotional sensitivity, mental maneuverability in adapting to one another, empathy and sympathy we have lost in these years of our country’s “economic development”. And the major losses happened, it seems, during the last thirty years of resistance to democracy’s principles of celebration of human uniqueness in human relationships on part of the growing accumulative and consumptive predatoriness and rivalry as people‘s motivating energies.

Watching “Long Day’s…” is an educational and a psycho-dramatic experience mobilizing our introspection and our ability to observe our emotional reactions in comparison with that of Tyrone family members more objectively. James, Mary and their two grownup sons (Jamie and Edmund) are born within traditional Christianity and, together with American culture are going through the process of secularization of worldview and sensibility. The father who was a famous Shakespearean actor still maintains religious psychology (which Lumet analyses in detail), although a refracted one because of his exposition to the grace of serious art. Mary, his wife, personifies the martyrdom aspect of religious psychology – she suffers for “being a bad mother and wife”. Her self-judgment is severe because of spiritual perfectionism of her worldview, but at the same time it opens the human soul to existential responsibilities which were unavailable for cathecting in a more traditional – more dogmatic universe. James and Mary’s sons try to rebel against the religious authoritarianism – they personify, correspondingly, two aspects of post-religious spirituality, Jamie – its intellectual aspect, and Edmund – its artistic-mystical aspect.

While experiencing the film we come to feel that there is a lot for us to learn from the Americans of the beginning of the previous century, that our everyday communications with each other are cognitively flat and thin and emotionally narrow and petty in comparison with theirs. Instead of honest arguments, as they had, we have “premature ejaculations” of emotional clashes, frustrations and sentimental or strategic sulking. Instead of positive confrontations we choose people (to be with) by principle of similarity with us, and we are isolated from otherness of other people and of the world around. Because Lumet concentrates on the psychological and semantic encounters between the characters and on the truths coming out of it, the film is very interesting to watch, while our life today with all its distractions from our own humanity to entertaining (consumerist) images is much more boring than they had way back then, when TV and radio pop-media were not available.

The acting of Jason Robards (Jamie) and Dean Stockwell (Edmund) is not just dramatic but poetic, not just truthful but gracious, and Mary Tyrone of Katharine Hepburn is her best work on the screen, while Ralph Richardson was able not only to open the soul of James Tyrone for the viewers but sharply depicted his psychological defenses and by this humanizing the conservative patriarch.

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Jamie’s confession of love in his envious hate – to his younger brother Edmund

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Jamie’s touching care about Edmund by not letting him drink extra-whisky

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James Tyron who cannot tell Edmund the truth about his illness, especially in front of Mary (who is accusing herself in her son’s Consumption), is glad that the doctor’s call distracts everybody’s attention.

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In her pray to The Virgin – Mary Tyron unintentionally exposes the semantic context or existential strings tied to her drug addiction.

Posted on May 12, 2012 –   Sidney Lumet’s “Long Day’s Journey Into The Night” (1962) – Confrontations And Co-existence Between Religious Psychology And Sprouts Of Existential Spirituality (Focus on American Intellectual Film Classics) by Acting-Out Politics