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Martha's Vineyard Times is a weekly publication.
August 18 - 24, 2005 Edition
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Standing ovations for A Certain Kind of Beauty
4 , 2005
Thank you for coming out to see my misery, Dan Aronie
quipped from his wheelchair on the stage of the Marthas Vineyard
Regional High School Performing Arts Center. He spoke haltingly yet
deliberately to the crowd of nearly 600 supporters who had just witnessed
the July 21 premiere of the documentary, A Certain Kind of Beauty,
a chronicle of his struggle against crippling multiple sclerosis.
Mr. Aronie, now 33, may have lost his motor skills and nearly his
life during the past 10 years, but his wry sense of humor was clearly
intact as he beamed out at the audience who rewarded him with repeated
standing ovations, whistles, and shouts of I love you, Dan!
Marty Nadler, comic and screenwriter, welcomed viewers with a tongue-in-cheek
monologue about the annual onslaught of summer tourists. The film
was then introduced by Harold Ramis, screenwriter, director, and actor,
whose films include some of the top comedies of the past several decades,
including Animal House, Caddyshack, Groundhog
Day, and Analyze This. Mr. Ramis commended the Aronie
family and the filmmakers Liz Witham, Ken Wentworth, Nancy Slonim
Aronie and Gerald Blake Storrow, for their creativity, compassion
and humanity. He characterized Mr. Aronie as still handsome,
still dapper, still crazy after all these years.
Finally, Mr. Aronies
mother Nancy, a writer, commentator for National Public Radio, spoke
about her sons long and arduous journey from a cocky, strapping
motorcycle-riding, pool-hustling ladies man of 21, to an angry,
suicidal 30-year-old trapped in a body that would no longer perform
even the most basic human functions without assistance. She believes
that now, at 33, her son has reached a point of greater acceptance,
spurred by his belief that others who become disabled will find comfort
through his story of love and strength in the face of adversity. Citing
his endless reserve of patience, strength and humor, Ms.
Aronie paid tribute to her son: You are a magnificent man and
no illness will ever take that from you.
The documentary is a compilation of carefully chosen moments, from
Mr. Aronies early awareness of speech problems and slight tremors
to open heart surgery and a four-month stint in a Boston hospital.
A Certain Kind of Beauty takes an unflinching look at
the progressive ravages of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease.
We see a tall, handsome young man articulately discussing his fears
of the future at age 27. Experimental brain surgery, bee sting therapy,
western medicine, acupuncture, and other alternative approaches all
failed to stop the diseases unrelenting course.
While it is painful to watch Mr. Aronies losses, the filmmakers
also capture the Aronie familys warmth, love and unique brand
of humor. Poignant moments are interspersed with comic relief.
I dont want to give up, Dan insists at a particularly
difficult stage of his illness. I dont want to die. Its
not my style. There is a pause and a silence. Suddenly, with
a laugh, he adds, I definitely dont want to give up and
As Mr. Aronie battles the disease, the family draws closer. His father
Joel, older brother Josh, Nancy, a series of caregivers and a cadre
of friends encircle him with compassion and indefatigable support.
Ive seen that happiness can conquer all, Mr. Aronie
says at his 33rd birthday party at the end of the film. As audience
members, we have accompanied him on his remarkable journey from brash
youth to wounded, yet still-spirited manhood. We have watched the
fury, the sorrow, the love and the fleeting moments of joy that sustain
this courageous man and his extraordinary family. We are exhausted
and saddened and hopeful and grateful and somehow more human as a
Filmmakers Liz Witham and Ken Wentworth of Film-Truth Productions
plan to distribute A Certain Kind of Beauty nationwide
both commercially and through schools and health-related organizations.
They hope Dan Aronie will accompany them as much as he is able. Dan
welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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