As I wrote earlier, I watched this film today. It brought up many memories and feelings that I have not thought about in a long time. Here is the transcription of the conversation between Elio’s father and Elio himself, after Oliver leaves Italy. This conversation, in my opinion, was the most important conversation between a father and his son, I have ever heard.
You two had a nice friendship.
You’re too smart not to know how rare, how special, what you two had was.
Oliver was Oliver
Parce que c’etait lui, parce que c’etait moi
He is more myself than I am …
Oliver may be very intelligent,
Intelligent? He was more than intelligent. What you two had had everything and nothing to do with intelligence. He was good, and you were both lucky to have found each other, because you too are good, Elio’s father speaks …
I think he was better than me Papa.
I’m sure he’d say the same thing about you, which flatters the two of you.
What lies ahead, Elio’s father continues – What lies ahead is going to be very difficult. We don’t have to speak about it, but not let’s pretend we don’t know what I am saying.
Fear not, it will come. At least I hope it does. And when you least expect it. Nature has a cunning way of finding our weakest spot. Just remember I am here. Right now you may not want to feel anything. Perhaps you never wished to feel anything. And perhaps it’s not with me that you’ll want to speak about these things, But feel something you did.
Look, Papa interrupted – You had a beautiful friendship, maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you. In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, or pray that their son’s land on their feet soon enough. But I am not such a parent.
In your place, if there is pain, nurse it and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching other forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.
Have I spoken out of turn, says Papa ?
Elio shakes his head.
Then let me tell you one more thing. It will clear the air, I may have come close, but I never had what you had. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business. But remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. Most of us can’t help but live as though we’ve got two lives to live, one is the mockup, the other the finished version, and then there are all those versions in between.
but there’s only one, and before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. I don’t envy the pain. But I envy you the pain.
He takes a breath.
We may never speak about this again. But I hope you’ll never hold it against me that we did. I will have been a terrible father if, one day, you’d want to speak to me and felt that the door was shut or not sufficiently open.
Elio wanted to ask how he knew. But then how could he not have known ? How could anyone not have known ? Does mother know, Elio asks?
I don’t think she does.But even if she did, I am sure her attitude would be no different than mine.
We said goodnight.
On my way upstairs I vowed to ask him about his life. We’d heard about his women when he was young, but I’d never had an inkling of anything else.
Was my father someone else? And if he was someone else, who was I ?
I won’t spoil either the book or the movie by saying anything further about the story.