“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” This sad reality that Jeremiah 17:9 notes is powerfully examined in Arthur Miller’s play A View from the Bridge. Sidney Lumet directed the 1962 film adaptation of the play starring Raf Valone as Eddie Carbone, a middle-aged man who, along with his wife, has raised his niece. The story begins as Eddie’s niece Catherine (played by Carol Lawrence) is 18 and an emotionally incestuous relationship has developed between the two, though neither is aware of the depth of Eddie’s obsession. Eddie sincerely believes that every decision he makes is for Catherine’s good, blinded to his real motives of jealousy and hatred of anyone who threaten to change what he believes he has with Catherine.
While Eddie and Catherine are blinded to the evil present in Eddie’s attitude toward her, others around them recognize how deceived Eddie has become by his heart. Eddie’s wife Beatrice (played by Maureen Stapleton) confronts him early in the film, trying to help him see how dangerous his attitude is. Out of the deceitfulness of his heart, Eddie jumps to a wild conclusion that Catherine’s boyfriend is a criminal. He goes to a lawyer seeking justice, and as the lawyer tells him that he has no case, he confront him and points to the truth that Eddie is in fact the one behaving unjustly. This lawyer also recognizes the obsessive motives towards Eddie’s niece and confronts him on those sick tendencies.
Though provided with ample opportunities to face that deceit in the heart and accept the truth in a way that allows the other people around him to go about their lives in a peaceable manner, Eddie chooses to continue living according to the deceitfulness of his heart. The results of this are an intense, dark journey into the harm of many people all because the one was unwilling to search what was really in his heart (deceit) but presumed instead upon the good intentions that he wanted to think he had. The movie provides a vivid picture of the Scripture passage I quoted at the beginning of this review and thus a reminder that all who know God must remain conscious of their responsibility to check their desires and motives, to analyze why they do what they do in order that decisions can be made that reflect the holiness of being transformed by God rather than by the deceitfulness of the human heart.
Stumble alert: As I mentioned, the film shows a very dark view of reality and takes its audience on an intense journey within that dark world of inner deceit. No sexuality or violence is shown on-screen, but both are significant elements of the darkness present in this story. While, I can’t imagine anything in this film implanting desires toward sinful thoughts, it would be prudent to watch it when not significantly emotionally burdened, as the depths of human despair are dealt with very realistically and very tragically.
Watch A View from the Bridge: Currently, the film is available in its entirety via a 12-video collection on Youtube. You may begin watching the film here.