Mudbound compels me to realize this. I have lived a life of utter betrayal. I betrayed my own name, the one he gave me so long ago: Writer. And, indeed, it is the Writer that patiently waits for me to step away from myself to give into the voice with that deep-throat desire to do what writers do—Write. This evening I must write a response to Mudbound, the experience. And I dig in the dirt to do so.
Mudbound hollers —WRITE–Tell this place, this earth and everything that lives on and inside of the earth to experience me–Mudbound. Superficially it is a coming of age story; the characters grow in and through their own dirt. It pulls the viewer into the dirt, and the viewer grows.
Yes, the dramatic interpretation of the film is beautiful. The acting is superb. However, it is the cinematic artistry and the language spoken and nuanced that leans into my soul, that pulls my heart, that tugs at my swollen feet. I am trying, really trying to write authentically about Mudbound. I find myself listening. It is dark, night. The wind is moving, the boys—one black; the other white are coming home from a war that inspires their brotherhood in spite of the melanin found in their skin. The wind is moving my imagination. Sure the movie treats those obvious themes about the south: Race; racism; death; family; sharecropping; war; murder. However, there is a necessary lesson hanging right side up: Racism cannot kill love. The beauty of this film adaptation of the novel by Hillary Jordan is its sweeping message about a love that thrives within the vein of sadness and nurtured in the dirt—real and metaphoric. Listen: Mudbound is a movie about the dirt, about how to release your humanity, your heart to retrieve it. I find myself walking through the dirt. There is a voice telling me to stand still, rest quietly in the dirt. If I stand long enough, I shall find my own land. That land is saturated with love, a love that crushes a racism that aims to kill.
Mudbound is not an experience to meditate upon; it is one to live!