Ample make this bed.
Make this bed with awe;
In it wait till judgment break
Excellent and fair.
Be its mattress straight,
Be its pillow round;
Let no sunrise’ yellow noise
Interrupt this ground.
Poem: “Ample Make This Bed” By Emily Dickinson
“When you choose between the impossible and the unacceptable you are making another choice between two goods or the lesser of two evils. But between an evil of awesome magnitude on the one hand and an evil of awesome magnitude on the other hand you face literally a “choice-less choice” –Alan J. Pakula (1928-1998) – Director of the film “Sophie’s Choice”)
Sophie’s Choice is a 1982 film based on the novel by American author William Styron. The novel was published in 1979. It concerns a young American Southerner, an aspiring writer, who befriends the Jewish Nathan Landau and his beautiful lover Sophie, a Polish survivor of the German Nazi concentration camps. The plot ultimately centers around a tragic decision which Sophie was forced to make upon entering the concentration camp.
The difficult decision that shapes the character Sophie is sometimes used as an idiom: a Sophie’s Choice is the necessity to choose between two unbearable options.
A Sophie’s Choice: “An impossibly difficult choice, especially when forced onto someone. The choice is between two unbearable options, and it’s essentially a no-win situation.”
On the night that she arrived at Auschwitz, a sadistic doctor made her choose which of her two children would die immediately by gassing and which would continue to live, albeit in the camp. Of her two children, Sophie chose to sacrifice her seven-year-old daughter, Eva, in a heart-rending decision that has left her in mourning and filled with a guilt that she cannot overcome.” Sophie’s darkest secret.
“Sophie’s Choice” is centered on a scene in Auschwitz where Sophie has just arrived with her ten-year old son and her seven-year old daughter and a sadistic doctor, presumably Doctor Mengele, tells her that she can only bring one of her children; one will be allowed to live while the other is to be killed.
As a mother, Sophie adores both of her children and can’t make this agonizing choice… until several soldiers force her and she hastily gives her daughter to them, sobbing as they take her little girl away.
Watch scene from Sophie’s Choice: THE CHOICE:
Sophie’s Choice is narrated by Stingo, a novelist who is recalling the summer when he began his first novel. As the story begins, in the early summer of 1947, Stingo (like Styron, a writer and Duke graduate) has been fired from his low-level reader’s job at the publisher McGraw-Hill and has moved into a cheap boarding house in Brooklyn, where he hopes to devote some months to his writing. While he is working on his novel, he is drawn into the lives of the lovers Nathan Landau and Sophie Zawistowska, fellow boarders at the house, who are involved in an intense and difficult relationship.
“Stingo is the audience. Stingo is everyone of us watching this. And taking it in, and then starting to feel very much a part of their lives, and very much then a part of history.” – Marvin Hamlisch (1944-2012) Composed musical score for Sophie’s Choice. (talking about the character STINGO by actor Peter MacNicol)
WATCH: Making of “Sophie’s Choice” – Part 1 of 2
WATCH: Making of “Sophie’s Choice” – Part 2 of 2
Sophie is a beautiful, Polish-Catholic survivor of the concentration camps of World War II, and Nathan is a Jewish-American – and, purportedly, a genius. (Kevin Kline)
Although Nathan claims to be a Harvard graduate and a cellular biologist with a pharmaceutical company, it is later revealed that this is a fabrication. Almost no one – including Sophie and Stingo – knows that Nathan is a paranoid schizophrenic. However, Sophie is aware that Nathan is self-medicating with drugs, including cocaine and benzadrine, that he supposedly obtains at Pfizer, his employer. This means that although he sometimes behaves quite normally and generously, there are times that he becomes frighteningly jealous, violent, abusive and delusional.
“I remember asking William Styron (the author of the novel) – Well, if Stingo is you, then who is this Nathan?” He said: “Well, Nathan is me too” KEVIN KLINE (Nathan)
As the story progresses, Sophie tells Stingo of her past, of which she has never before spoken. She describes her violently anti-Semitic father, a law professor in Krakow; her unwillingness to help him spread his ideas; her arrest by the Nazis for smuggling food to her mother, who was on her deathbed; and particularly, her brief stint as a stenographer-typist in the home of Rudolf Höss, the commander of Auschwitz, where she was interned. She specifically relates her attempts to seduce Höss in an effort to persuade him that her blond, blue-eyed, German-speaking son should be allowed to leave the camp and enter the Lebensborn program, in which he would be raised as a German child. She failed in this attempt and, ultimately, never learned of her son’s fate. Only at the end of the book does the reader also learn what became of Sophie’s daughter, named Eva.
As Nathan’s “outbreaks” become more violent and abusive, Stingo receives a summons from Nathan’s brother, Larry.
“I wanted Nathan to scare me in order to feel the domineering father of her past, and the Nazis and that sort of perverse search for the same horror that you are escaping from in order to punish yourself for the guilt you feel.” – (MERYL STREEP – talking about how she embodied the character Sophie)
Stingo learns from Larry that Nathan is schizophrenic and is not a cellular biologist, although, as Larry says, “he could have been fantastically brilliant at anything he might have tried out … But he never got his mind in order.” Nathan’s delusions have led him to believe that Stingo is having an affair with Sophie, and he threatens to kill them both.
Sophie and Stingo attempt to flee to a peanut farm in Virginia which Stingo’s father has inherited. And then, suddenly Sophie leaves Stingo, leaving only a note in which she says that she must return to Nathan.
Upon arriving back in Brooklyn, Stingo discovers that Sophie and Nathan have committed suicide by ingesting sodium cyanide and is devastated.
Watch Scene: Sophie’s Choice – Ample Make This Bed:
LISTEN TO SOUNDTRACKS:
LIST OF SOUNDTRACKS – FILM: SOPHIE’S CHOICE
1 Love Theme Marvin Hamlisch 1:57
2 Train Ride to Brooklyn Marvin Hamlisch 2:47
4 Coney Island Fun Marvin Hamlisch 1:02
5 Songs Without Words (Op. 30, No. 1) Marvin Hamlisch 1:45
6 Emily Dickinson Marvin Hamlisch 2:01
7 Aren’t All Women Like You Marvin Hamlisch 1:56
8 Rite On the Brooklyn Bridge Marvin Hamlisch 2:48
9 Stingo, Polish Lullaby Marvin Hamlisch 1:43
10 Nathan Returns Marvin Hamlisch 1:25
11 Southern Plantation Marvin Hamlisch 1:57
12 I’ll Never Leave You Marvin Hamlisch 1:25
13 Stingo and Sophie Together Marvin Hamlisch 3:06
14 Ample Make This Bed Marvin Hamlisch 2:14
15 End Credits Marvin Hamlisch 2:51