Where have all the years gone: Allan King’s Memory

I watched Allan King’s documentary Memory last night with my daughter. What a heart-wrenching experience.

You are your memory. Lose your memory, and you lose your self. Memory reveals the agony of the dissolution of the identity in residents of a Toronto old age home. I can’t watch this sort of thing without thinking of my parents, who are now 70 and 71 – though they are still in great health.

Parents who no longer remember their kids. People who no longer remember whole swaths of their lives – the ultimate theft. And one resident, Claire, who could not remember the death of her dearest friend, Max, just a few short days ago.

I have to say, watching something like this quickly disabuses you of any notions that the things that matter in life are money, outward success, beauty … any of the litany of things that are must-have components of the lives of the rich and famous.

If you get a chance to see this documentary, don’t miss it. It’s worth the expense of two hours.

It really made me think about maximizing the time I do have with my family. One woman who was being filmed said the familiar “where have all the years gone?” For her, with her tattered memory, that question has a double meaning.

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Find out more at Allan King’s website. It’s all-Flash, so I can’t link directly to the specific page, but it’s easy to find. There is a concept PDF available.

I previously saw another of Allan King’s documentaries, Dying at Grace, a private look at the dying days of a number of terminally ill patients. Also highly recommended – but very emotional.