All the Lonely People: Music on Life’s Discordant Journey

Don Baird

Don Baird

Don Baird
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

A review of Living is easy with eyes closed (2013) (Original title: Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados)

Director: David Trueba; Producer: Christina Huete; Strand Releasing

When psychologist Abraham Maslow began his studies of self-actualization, he sought to include the importance of the arts in his work. However, he found the definitions typically offered to be cumbersome rather than helpful. Finally, he decided that if he were to even be able to look at this topic, he’d need a more understandable beginning definition. Thus, to get started, he decided he would define “great art” as “art that I like.”

In Spain of 1966, in the midst of the repressive rule of Franco, an English Teacher Antonio found the music of the Beatles to be the art that he liked. In fact, he had even found a way to include the lyrics to the song “Help” in his class lessons. He found Beatles’ music to be a refuge from loneliness, a source of joy, and offering possibilities of liberation and hope for the future.

Then an amazing thing happened. John Lennon, who had become one of the most famous people in the world, announced he was considering leaving The Beatles and would make a film in Almeria, Spain. Antonio, who had written down the lyrics to Beatles songs in his notebook, needed help correcting the lyrics. Perhaps he could ask Mr. Lennon!

In this warm-hearted film based on a true story, Javier Camara gives a wonderful, award-winning performance as the lonely kind teacher who begins his own quest to meet John Lennon while he is in Spain. On the road, he takes in two other passengers who are fleeing their own repressive domains. The first, Belen, is a pregnant 20-year-old run-away from a convent who accepts Antonio’s offer of a ride. The other is Juanjo, a teenage boy running away from a bullying father who demands he cut his hair.

The title of this film comes from the lyrics to “Strawberry Fields Forever” which Lennon began writing while in Almeria, Spain. The words come to have special meaning in the film’s amazing final moments, when the teacher finds new courage and does battle with a local bully.

Winner of 6 Goya Awards, including Best Film, Actor, Director and Screenplay, this unforgettable Spanish film is now more widely available thanks to a DVD release via Strand Releasing and on demand video streaming.


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