Waterloo Bridge (1940 film)
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MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
After Britain’s declaration of war in World War II, army colonel Roy Cronin is driven to London’s Waterloo station on his way to France, and briefly alights on Waterloo Bridge to reminisce about events that occurred during World War I when he met Myra Lester, whom he had planned to marry. While Roy gazes at a good-luck charm, a billiken that she had given him, the story unfolds.
Roy, a captain in the Rendleshire Fusiliers on his way to the front, and Myra, a ballerina, serendipitously meet crossing Waterloo Bridge during an air raid, striking up an immediate rapport while taking shelter. Myra invites Roy to attend that evening’s ballet performance and an enamoured Roy ignores an obligatory dinner with his colonel. Roy sends a note to Myra to join him after the performance, but the note is intercepted by the mistress of the ballet troupe, the tyrannical Madame Olga, who forbids Myra from having any relationship with Roy. Despite the admonition, they meet at a romantic night spot. Roy has to travel to the front immediately and proposes marriage, but wartime circumstances prevent them from marrying immediately. Roy assures Myra that his family will look after her while he is away. Madame Olga learns of Myra’s disobedience and dismisses her from the troupe along with fellow dancer Kitty when she scolds Olga for spoiling Myra’s happiness.
The young women share a small flat. Unable to find work, they soon become penniless. Roy’s mother Lady Margaret Cronin and Myra arrange to meet for an introduction. Awaiting Lady Margaret’s belated arrival at a tea room, Myra scans a newspaper and faints after finding Roy listed among the war dead. Shocked and bewildered, Myra is offered a tall brandy by the receptionist to help bring her around. Sitting alone, Myra swallows a large amount of Brandy just as Lady Margaret appears. Unable to disclose the dreadful news, Myra’s banal and incoherent conversation is unsettling to her prospective mother-in-law, who withdraws without seeking further explanation. Myra faints again and falls ill with grief. The two young ladies’ economic situation becomes dire. To cover their expenses, her roommate Kitty becomes a streetwalker. Belatedly, Myra believed that Kitty was working as a stage performer, but then learns what her friend has done. Feeling that she has alienated Lady Margaret and having no desire to live, the heartbroken Myra joins her friend Kitty and resorts to prostitution as well. A year passes.
While offering herself to soldiers on leave arriving at the Waterloo station, Myra sees Roy, who is alive and well. He had been wounded and held as a prisoner of war. A reconciliation occurs that is joyous for Roy but bittersweet for Myra. The couple travels to the family estate in Scotland to visit Lady Margaret, who deduces the misunderstanding that occurred at the tea room. Myra is also accepted by Roy’s uncle, the Duke, but he inadvertently feeds her guilt by saying that she could never do anything to bring shame or dishonour to the family. Confronted with the possibility of a scandal and the seeming impossibility of a happy marriage, Myra decides that breaking off the engagement is her only choice. Myra discloses the truth to a compassionate Lady Margaret but is unable to believe herself worthy of marrying Roy. Myra leaves behind a goodbye note and returns to London. Roy follows, with the aid of Kitty, hoping to find her despite discovering the truth in the process. Myra is depressed and returns to Waterloo Bridge, where she commits suicide by walking into the path of an oncoming truck.
In the present day, the older Roy reminisces about Myra’s sincere final profession of love that was only for him and no other. He tucks her charm into his coat pocket and drives away in his car.
Now, a note from this author:
“Waterloo Bridge” is a beautiful movie, with a simple message. I saw the film, quite by chance, a few days ago when a friend sent me a short, intriguing snippet of a scene from the film on WhatsApp. It is a classic movie of times gone by and is filmed in black and white. Do not let the latter fact deter you from watching it – the black and white filming has its very own charm – it creates an incredible imagery of light and shadow that is not so obvious in a modern-day colour movie. For that matter, this fact remains true for all old, classic films shot in black and white. Try seeing such movies like “Roman Holiday”, “Gaslight,” “Rebecca” (the old black and white movie) and “Chase a Crooked Shadow” and you will realise immediately what I mean.
Today’s blog is going to speak of prostitution, in general, and of the sad, blighted, and stigmatized lives of sex workers, since the beginning of time till date. As Kitty herself stated in the movie – “It’s the easiest and quickest way to make money but I bet a woman did not coin that phrase.” This is so true – only a woman who is driven to the depths of despair and utter desperation will resort to such extreme, undesired behaviour, especially when their circumstances are very difficult and dire. This has mostly been the case since the beginning of time – more and more likely if the person is flat-out broke, is totally impoverished and possesses no real workable skills or work experience that will get her a job with a modicum of dignity. DO NOT JUDGE SUCH PEOPLE; WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE. WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE OTHERS ANYWAY?
We have not walked even a mile in their shoes – we do not know where the shoe pinches them the most – it is only the wearer of the shoe who knows it. We cannot even begin to imagine the shame, guilt and humiliation involved. Sometimes, if the sex worker is in dire need of cash, she may even be forced to resort to ‘kinky’ stuff – the kinkier it is, the more money is involved. Whatever you might imagine, it certainly cannot enjoyable.
Some men visit sex workers to satisfy their forbidden, innermost, often violent sexual fantasies – extreme forms of lust and violence which cannot be expressed with a wife or partner. This often leads the sex worker to be brutally raped and beaten up by her client. How can that act possibly be pleasurable? Think about it. Besides, it is an act of utter selfishness on the part of the male client – he only thinks of himself, not the woman. He feels that he is paying for it – so that exonerates him of any fault of wrong-doing.
Rape is the commission of sexual assault without the consent of or consideration for the opposite party’s feelings – it is the gratification of unrequited sexual urges. Sexual assault is more about the exercise of misplaced power and of feeling ‘in control’, a barbaric act of brutality, violence, and subjugation, essentially demeaning and victimising the person – in this case the sex worker. The act of going a step further and killing the victim somehow adds intense satisfaction, almost sexual in nature, to the overall experience of the twisted and sociopathic/psychopathic mind. Intense darkness and absolute evil inhabit the minds of such perpetrators, masquerading as, “johns” looking for sexual workers to gratify their wickedness. Who better to use for such evil means – it’s the marginalised sexual worker of course. So sad but true.
Some of the most heinous crimes have been committed against sex workers – the perpetrator of the crime often knows that there is no one out there who will miss them, leave alone report them missing to the police. It’s one of the main reasons why such crimes take place in the first place.
The Green River Killer (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Ridgway#Victims) was one such horrific and prolific criminal who raped and murdered several women. Gary Ridgway – the Green River Killer – was one of the most infamous American serial killers in history. He killed many teenage girls and women in the U.S. state of Washington during the 1980s and 1990s. He was convicted of 49 murders –mostly involving sex workers and women in vulnerable circumstances who he felt certain nobody would miss. He raped the women and then strangled them with his bare hands or with a ligature.
The press nicknamed him as the Green River Killer when the dead bodies of his first 5 victims were found unceremoniously dumped in the Green River. He used to lay his victims in the forested, overgrown and isolated areas in King County. He was a necrophiliac too – he often returned to the sites of the dead, brutalized bodies of the dead women and had sex with the dead body. It’s shameful and absolutely disgusting to say the least – it is said that it is in the way that a dead person is buried (or unceremoniously discarded and dumped somewhere) that determines the true nature of the criminal. These unfortunate, hapless women – among so many known and still unknown victims – were not even given a shred of respect or dignity at the end of their lives. Can you even begin to imagine the fear and terror that such sex workers are forced to endure daily just to be able to earn enough to survive? Think about it. We should be so thankful that we do not live daily in such horrid circumstances. Whether you choose to believe it or not, it is the sex worker that keeps us women safe. We have so much to be grateful for! Yet society marginalizes and stigmatizes sex workers! How unfair is that?
On 30th November 2001, Ridgway was arrested following DNA profiling evidence that linked him with the murders of 4 women. As part of his plea bargain, wherein he agreed to disclose the location of the graves of still-missing women, he was spared the death penalty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He was convicted for having confirmed the rape and murder of 49 women and confessed to another 71 – 90+ victims who he had assaulted and then murdered – in fact, he went so far as to state that he had lost count of the number of his victims – there were so many of them.
In his confession, he acknowledged that he targeted prostitutes because they were “easy to pick up” and that he “hated most of them.” He confessed that he had sex with his victims’ bodies after he murdered them, but claimed he began burying the later victims so that he could resist the urge to commit necrophilia.
Ridgway later said that murdering young women was his “career.”
Can you imagine the innumerable families who have not had closure – unable to even grieve because the missing person is still not located? It is so horrible – it should not be wished on anyone.
Since the sex trade is fraught with so many terrors and unknown factors, it is the colleagues of the sex worker herself who rally around her – they make a pact to protect each other because the rest of the world could not care less. How very sad indeed!
Not to say that a sex worker is always a woman – it could be any gender. It’s the same case – or a thousand times worse – with human trafficking. This heinous crime not only involves lust; it is a highly misplaced greed for power and money.
The next time you are tempted to pass judgement on a sex worker, think for a moment about what I have stated here.
It is not for nothing that it has been stated that we have returned to the Dark Ages – “Kalyug” as Hindu scriptures call it and never was a truer word spoken.
At the end of it all, just remember – “Who are we to pass judgment on others anyway? It is in the hands of God and Karma – not in any way a job for any of us.
Do NOT forget it.