Sunday, February 1, 2009

"A Teacher Affects Eternity. He Can Never Tell Where His Influence Stops." -Henry Adams

The Teacher’s Name is Death
Tuesdays With Morrie
By: Mitch Albom
Reviewed By: Sarah Moon
Have you ever thought of death as an opportunity to live? In Mitch Albom’s nonfiction novel Tuesdays with Morrie protagonist Morrie Schwartz, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, takes advantage of his forthcoming death. Morrie is diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease: A disease that melts your body from, in Morrie’s case, the legs up. As the disease kills more of Morrie’s body day by day, his wisdom contrarily seems to grow. Formally a professor from Brandeis University, he continues to teach the significance of learning how to love one another and opens your eyes to the beauty in things you may not have noticed before. The film fails to include all of Morrie’s lessons and aphorisms that are displayed in the novel, but does not lack in highlighting the main points while still focusing on the rest of the story. Both the book and the movie will leave you with a completely different outlook on life and death.
The film and the book have many differences, but Morrie’s main idea that if you “learn how to die, you learn how to live” (83) carries strongly throughout both. Mitch Albom was Morrie’s student back in college, however is no longer in touch with him due to his demanding career as a sports writer. Mitch learns about Morrie’s illness while flipping through channels on his TV. Through fate, Mitch happens to come across Morrie’s face on the television. This event already foreshadows a kind of hope for Mitch. The movie focuses on Mitch’s relationships with different people from beginning to end to show the affects Morrie had on Mitch. Mitch changes from a man that is too caught up with society and materialistic desires, to a man who learns how to love and see the true beauty of life. Mitch’s transformation is just as poignant as Morrie’s profundity. Morrie carries with him, a wisdom that is extremely difficult to embody. He sees his death as an opportunity to teach the world about “[accepting] what you are able to do and what you are not able to do” (18). Morrie also stresses the importance of “[learning] to forgive your self and [learning] to forgive others” (18). The film magnifies the withering of Morrie’s body and also his unchanging attitude to show you his strength as a person. It is moving to see Morrie’s consistency and power on his decision to “make the best of [his] time left” (10). The film does not include the relationship Mitch has with his brother. Instead, his relationship with his boss from work is included. Mitch’s boss fires him and out of anger, Mitch does not fight for it back. After a lesson of forgiveness with Morrie, Mitch accepts his boss’s apology and agrees to return to his job. This was a significant scene because it was a clear display of Morrie’s influence on Mitch. The film does not include every relationship and every one of Morrie’s teachings, and instead utilizes the addition of characters such as Mitch’s boss to show the strength of Morrie’s leverage. Morrie’s will to live and his ongoing quest to help others even when he is dying, is truly commendable. It is impossible not to fall in love with Morrie after the book and the movie.
Morrie taught so that his teachings would carry on even after his death. He knew that even though he would pass on that “death [only] [ended] a life [and] not a relationship” (174). You will understand this passage in its entirety after reading and watching the movie. Morrie is an absolutely beautiful character that teaches you by grabbing your hearts’ attention first. This novel teaches you the lessons of life and love as well as the importance of learning how to forgive and the significance of starting immediately. I recommend Tuesdays With Morrie, both the film and the novel, to anyone looking for something unforgettable. This book may be shorter than many novels, but it is definitely nothing short of amazing. “[Morrie’s] teaching goes on” (192).
I realize that I don't have much of an individual voice in this review. It's only because there's so much I wanted to say about the book itself, I lost myself in it. But by seeing the way I praise the book its not hard to miss my love for it. This book is absolutely phenomenal. I'm sure Morrie is looking down on us right now, smiling, watching, as his teachings continue to spread worldwide. Help spread the word.

This is the real Morrie Schwartz. Not the one from the movie, but the real man that suffered through the Lou Gehrig's disease. I encourage you to watch this.

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