Sunday, March 9, 2014

"Consequences" - Lena Horne and Eddie Rochester

There's nothing like watching "Cabin in the Sky" to put things into perspective. The simplicity of the plot is designed so that everyone can identify with it. Unlike the symbolism of "Moby Dick", or "Heart of Darkness"; both of which explore the consequences of evil; this film lays it out in plain language.

The story, which centers around the character of Little Joe, is straightforward. Little Joe has been hurt in a fight while gambling and now the Devil has come for him. But an Archangel also shows up at his bedside to claim Little Joe's soul for Heaven.

What follows is an all out battle for Little Joe's soul, with the Devil giving it his all to make sure that Little Joe pays for his sins. But the Archangel has some tricks of his own which he is bound to try before he gives up.

In this scene Little Joe is being tempted; again; by Lena Horne's character. And he tries his best to resist her charms. One of the most remarkable things about this video is the contrast between Eddie Rochester's vocal and that of Ms. Horne's. It juxtaposes the rough and coarse nature of Little Joe's singing; and hence sinful ways; with that of Lena Horne's smooth and sultry performance, kind of seductive, like the Devil would be. In a way it is also emblematic of the difference between Little Joe and Petunia, played by Ethel Waters. Joe has to fight the Devil, while Petunia embraces the Lord. They are as different as night and day; save for one thing. They truly love one another.

And, in the end, the only thing which can save Little Joe from his fate is the love of his woman, Petunia, who who just loves Little Joe so much that she can't even bear the thought of Heaven without him there. Rather than follow her faith into the Heaven she has earned, she turns her back upon God, and her reward, choosing to go instead with Little Joe. Her love and commitment to him impress the Lord so much that he takes them both.

So, ultimately, Little Joe gets to Heaven on a pass from Petunia. And, she is being rewarded for her faith that everything would turn out okay. But, remember, it was really her love that saved Little Joe from "those old devil consequences".

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