Jeanne Hebuterne


I just watched the story of Modigliani, one of my favorite artists from the “Lost Generation,” (Paris, 1920’s). I didn’t realize that his life was so tragic and that his lover, Jeanne Hebuterne, was a love addict. After a tumultuous relationship with Modigliani, who was an alcoholic and refused to care for their first child, she ended up committing suicide (while 8 months pregnant with their second child) a day or two after he had died unexpectedly of aggravated tuberculosis. 

Hollywood, of course, turns her addiction into a beautiful and dramatic sacrifice of love for Modigliani and the audience is left to feel sated by their eternal love. 

I, on the other hand, see the ugliness of it. The pain. The suffering. The reality of the sickness. And yet, a part of me is still awed by an individual’s complete submission and emotional loyalty to another human being. I don’t believe I have ever been so love sick to the point of wanting to end my life. Pained, yes. Suicidal, no. But gosh, it looks so good when Elsa Zylberstein who plays Jeanne falls off that balcony.

This is the true damage of Hollywood: you tend to compare your own life to the drama and thrill of what you see represented on the screen and you always fall short. All art does that. All film. All writing. It takes shallow, superficial beauty and immortalizes it and defines it as profound beauty. It takes average and ugly and redefines it as beautiful. It take something real and plain and makes it unreal and surreal and superreal. Up against art we are all ugly. We all fall short. 

The two longest standing loves of my life were Paul (1991-1996) and George (2005-present). And the former was not real. It was more or less imagined. Both I turned into art. Both are, in actuality, an ugly representation of my darker side. 

It’s time to step away from film for awhile. Despite enjoying the story, the glamour mixed with tragedy depresses me.

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