These beautiful blazing comets

I have gotten into the dubious habit recently of watching sequences of movies that trace out the careers of particular actors, from their earliest roles to their latest (and in some cases, their last).

It’s a fascinating enterprise, because you end up seeing two opposite things at once. Of course you see the unstoppable march of time, of cultural change, of shifting values, and alas, of mortality. But you also see the integrity, the majesty, of these beautiful blazing comets we call lives.

There is something wonderful about recognizing, even within young child actors, the unique spark that they will carry within their being for decades to come. It’s all there right at the start, that essential fire, although it will take many forms through the years.

In particular, today I reached all the way back to the very first film performance by Adam Arkin, the 1969 Academy Award winning short film “People Soup”, written and directed by his father, the great Alan Arkin (who had originally written it as a short story).

I had read the story many years ago, and had immediately fallen in love with it. I had known there was a film as well, but had not seen it until today. To my eyes, it is quite startling to see the twelve year old Adam Arkin in this, because everything that is essential in the man is completely there in the child. The film is also really funny. 🙂

But you can judge for yourself: Here is the film.

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