Tuck Everlasting

What would be more meaningful- an eternal existence or a fully-lived life? “If you could choose to live forever, would you?” Does not it sound like blasphemy? But this is the central theme of director Jay Russell’s movie- Tuck everlasting (2002). Based on Natalie Babbitt’s children’s book- Tuck Everlasting (1975), this ninety-minute-U.S. English movie will compel you to ponder profoundly on the thought that may seem to have an insidious intent.

The movie stars Alexis Bledel as Winnie Foster- the central character of the story, Jonathan Jackson as Jesse Tuck, Scott Bairstow as Miles Tuck, William Hurt as Angus Tuck, Sissy Spacek as Mae Tuck, Victor Garber as Robert Foster, Amy Irving as the mother Foster and Ben Kingsley as The Man in “Yellow Suit”.

The movie begins with the screening of a fifteen-year-old girl’s life, Winnie Foster, who is the only child of her rich but extremely strict parents. She lives in the USA of early 1900s. She is being sent to live in a boarding in a far off land which is much against her will. She lives a luxurious and protective life in her parent’s mansion which is situated in the middle of the forests owned by her father- Robert foster. She protests against their decision explaining them that she could not go miles away from her home to explore the whole world when she has not even explored the land beyond the fences of her house. But the refusal of her parents to her staying back at home makes her so much annoyed that she crosses the threshold of her home for the first time in her life and runs away into the woods.

While running through the woods, she meets a young boy named Jesse Tuck who seemed to be of seventeen or eighteen years of age. After their initial quarrel, she is forcefully taken away to the house of Tucks by Jesse’s elder brother- Miles Tuck, where she meets Angus Tuck- the head of the family and his wife- Mae Tuck. She spends many days with them in their house and loves their simple way of living life which was very peaceful being far away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world. She was surprised to see that the Tucks did not have any materialistic desire. Nor did they have any greed for money. With the passage of time, she fails to remember how many days she spent with them. She spends a lot of time with Jesse and finds that she had fallen in love with him.

But one day, a dark secret of the family is revealed to Winnie by Miles Tuck and it was that “the Tucks were doomed to stay forever”. No disease, old age, accident or even death could ever harm them. Tucks did not want Winnie to leave them as she could disclose their much-guarded secret to anyone. The “Fountain of Youth”, from which they drank in the woods, was the cause of their immortality. After drinking its water, all four in the family got struck in their lives and did not grow old at all.

Meanwhile, the Fosters decide to find their daughter with the help of a man in “yellow suit” who negotiates with them about his reward of getting the Foster’s house and the woods in lieu of finding them their daughter. Jesse also convinces Winnie to drink out of that stream and move to some other place with the Tucks. But the man in “yellow suit” locates the Tucks and threatens to shoot them if they would not reveal their secret of immortality. But the man is shot dead by Winnie while Angus and Mae are arrested for kidnapping Winnie. Jesse and Miles escape to save their parents and Winnie is sent back to her home. With the help of Winnie, Jesse and Miles save their parents and free them from the jail.

When the Tucks were leaving that place, Jesse asks Winnie to drink the water of that stream and promises to return back to her after many years. After the death of Winnie’s grandmother, she goes to the same spring in the woods again.  Does she drink its water? Does Jesse return back to his love- Winnie? What happens after she finds the truth of life? Does the end of the movie assure the unity of these lovers? The end of the movie is full of suspense.

The movie’s shot in the luscious green woods of the USA and its story strictly follows the linearity of time, place and action except for the time when the Tucks discuss their past lives. The brimming rivers, lakes, streams, springs, meadows, fountains, rocks, extensive wheat fields under the brightly glowing sun, mountains, tree houses and the house of the colonial style together give this movie a fairytale touch. It is a fantasy spun into a life-like drama and an imagination given its wings. The background-music that melodiously binds many scenes of this movie with one another also has got a very tranquil touch to it which aptly goes with the whole story.

It describes the mentality of the then Americans who believed in black magic, charms, superstitions and witchcraft. The story of the movie has the power of making itself seem very believable to its audiences.

This Disney movie has a lot in store not just for the kids who like listening to fairy tales but also for the adults who spend an unlived life in the pursuit of a long life or immortality. The moral of the story is also very tenderly given to its audiences. The moral of the story is that one should not be scared of death but should be scared of an unlived life.

Aditi Swami

[Image courtesy: http://www.independentcritics.com/images/tuck%20everlasting%20SPLASH.jpg]