February 20, 1905 [The Seven Ages]
As sentimental and, yes, tired as it may be—animated ghosts of magic lantern shows—this Seven Ages sidles closer to Shakespeare's "melancholy Jaques" than one might assume. In As You Like It the Bard filigreed the sphinx's three-part riddle (man as the creature that walks on four, then two, then three legs) into intricacies of exits and entrances, many parts for mere players; while in the cinema, the "strange eventful history" seems softened, almost tamed--until the end, an eighth moment as coda: the old maid. "What Age?" the title queries, as she sits alone with her cat. I am always ready to shed a sentimental tear in the midst of a knowing wink; and so she follows me out of the theater, and brings me back to Jaques' soliloquy, "sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." The ages of this little production reassure us that everyone gets his and her seven kisses—except, again, the lonely, as the un-moving camera refuses to take us toward to the old maid's un-kissed face, the distance more sad than respectful.