“Obviously doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen year-old girl”
Sofia Coppola made her directorial and screenwriting debut with an independent film titled The Virgin Suicides. The film was made back in 1999 and starred Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, James Woods, and Kathleen Turner to name a few. The film was based on a book of the same title authored by Jeffrey Eugenides. For reasons unknown I just watched the film last night for the first time. I have yet to read the book, but after watching the film I will be buying the book this week. A friend of mine loaded my iPod with some music by a French duo called AIR, which is a backronym for Amour, Imagination, Rêv, which translates to Love, Imagination, Dream. The duo actually composed the original score for the entire film and released a full length album by the same name as the film.
I listened to the soundtrack, which is speckled with altered versions of original text from the book and dialogue from the movie. The last track on the album is titled “Suicide Underground” and is such a beautiful song in such a wonderfully ominous and mysterious manner. I cant say enough about this film. From what I gather, since I haven’t yet read it, the book is written in first person plural; and, the reader never really knows the identity and quantity of the narrators. Judging from the fact that Sofia took many scenes verbatim from the book as well as did AIR for the pieces in their music, the book seems to be primarily more prose than dialogue and at times almost poetic.
I cant wait to read the book. The movie is now one of my all time favorites. A movie about suicide is hard to make enjoyable, much less is a movie about the suicides of five sisters, but Sofia Coppola succeeded in making a truly beautiful film.
The following text are excerpts from the book and the film which AIR used as “lyrics” to the “Suicide Underground” track. Scroll to the bottom and listen to the track while you read the lyrics. Or just listen to the track and decide for yourself. The track is so well done. The end gives me chills. Enjoy.
“Everyone dated the demise of our neighborhood from the suicides of the Lisbon girls.
People saw their clairvoyance in the wiped-out elms and harsh sunlight.
Some thought the torture tearing the Lisbon girls pointed to a simple refusal to accept the world as it was handed down to them:
So full of flaws.
But the only thing we are certain of after all these years is the insufficiency of explanation.
“Obviously doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen year-old girl.”
The Lisbon girls were 13, Cecilia, 14, Lux, 15, Bonnie, 16, Mary, and 17, Therese.
No one could understand how Mrs. Lisbon and Mr. Lisbon, our math teacher, had produced such beautiful creatures.
From that time on, the Lisbon house began to change.
Almost every day, and even when she wasn’t keeping an eye on Cecilia,
Lux would suntan on her towel wearing a swimsuit that caused the knife-sharpener to give her a 15-minute demonstration for free.
The only reliable boy who got to know Lux was Trip Fontaine
For only 18 months before the suicides had emerged from baby fat
To the delight of girls and mothers alike.
But few anticipated it would be so drastic.
The girls were pulled out of school, and Mrs. Lisbon shut the house for maximum security isolation.
The girls’ only contact with the outside world was through the catalogs
They ordered that started to fill the Lisbon’s mailbox with pictures of high-end fashions and brochures for exotic vacations.
Unable to go anywhere, the girls traveled in their imaginations:
To gold-tipped Siamese temples or past an old man, the leaf broom tidying the maw carpeted speck of Japan.
And Cecelia hadn’t died. She was a bride in Calcutta.
Collecting everything we could of theirs, we couldn’t get the Lisbon girls out of our minds, but they were slipping away.
The colours of their eyes were fading, along with exact locations of moles and dimples.
From five, they had become four, and they were all, the living and the dead, become shadows.
We would have lost them completely if the girls hadn’t contacted us.
Lux was the last to go.
Fleeing from the house, we forgot to stop at the garage.
After the suicide free-for-all, Mr. and Mrs. Lisbon gave up any attempt to lead a normal life.
They had Mr. Hedly pack up the house, selling what furniture he could at a garage sale.
Everyone went just to look.
Our parents did not buy used furniture, and they certainly didn’t buy furniture tainted by death.
We of course took the family photos that were put out with the trash.
Mr. Lisbon put the house on the market, and it was sold to a young couple from Boston.
It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls.
But only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling; still do not hear us.
Calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time. alone in suicide,
Which is deeper than death,
And where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.”