Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Mind Reels

The inspirational music of Soul Surfer is seeping through the cracks of my door. Now I feel confident that I can do anything, including but not limited to writing multiple blog posts. Seeing bits and pieces of the film as I amble into the kitchen for chunks of cantaloupe has made the films strips of my mind reel with alternate endings. Perhaps if it were not based on a true story, and if it were renamed Moby Dick, things would have concluded differently.


The Soul Surfer paddles out into the ocean on her board, now confident in her ability to surf with one arm. The plot comes full circle as the fin of the same shark that attacked her before surfaces. She sees it cut across the water and her eyes narrow with the wisdom that she has gained from her journey. Since the accident, the Soul Surfer never paddles out to sea without a harpoon. She uses her remaining arm to launch the harpoon into the approaching predator. Blood surfaces on the water. The waves carry the Soul Surfer and the struggling shark to shore, where she guts the fish and retrieves her severed arm from its esophagus. Modern science provides a way to reattach the limb to her body. Modern taxidermy provides a way to mount the cartilaginous skeleton above her decorative marble fireplace – providing the film’s closing image.


The Soul Surfer paddles out into the ocean on her board. A fin surfaces, the fin of the same shark that previously attacked her. She assaults the shark with her trusty harpoon and a knife between her teeth and drags it to land. As she guts the shark on the lonely stretch of Hawaiian shore, she finds no trace of her arm. For retribution, she slices off the fin of the offending shark and leaves it, gills heaving, in the sand. Modern science provides a way to attach the aquatic limb to her ocean-amorous body. An image of her gliding across the curling waves on her board, extending her shark fin for balance, fades to black.


The Soul Surfer paddles out into the ocean and sees the fin of a shark moving towards her. She hurls her harpoon, skewers the shark, and guts it in the smoldering crystal sand. Triumphantly, she leaves the beach with a surfboard in her hand and a shark fin between her teeth. An eye for an eye; a fin for an arm, she mutters unintelligibly as she spits the fin onto an operating table. The tide gently pulls the suffocating shark back to sea. The shark community is outraged by the story of the 100 millionth human attack on a shark that year, imagining that the lost fin went on to be fermented into hakarl, a traditional Icelandic dish. The wounded shark is told that it will never swim again, but against all odds, it does.


The Soul Surfer is making banana bread one morning when she hears a sharp knock on the door – the sharp knock of a shark. The predator apologizes for the whole incident, admitting elusively that it thought she was someone else. It announces that the shark community’s advances in stem cell research have produced a new arm for her. Then it returns the partially digested arm and gives her a large loaf of banana bread as retribution, making the situation all the more awkward for the Soul Surfer as she wonders what she should do with the banana bread batter she already has on the table. Should she freeze the batter, bake the bread and freeze it in some foil? Who knows? She decides to re-gift the shark bread.

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