Rolling With the Tropic: The Personal History of David Copperfield

By Ian Brockway

5/5 (1)

Under gray skies from Tropical Storm Gamma, I set out for the Tropic Cinema. My thoughts were on the strangeness of our country, political division and Trump contracting the virus. But when I looked down the lane and saw the sun come out, I was on my way.

I put my chair in gear, carrying iced coffee. The street was quiet but I hit bump after bump. The coffee was sloshing all over my seat. I thought of the film “The Sorcerer” where a truck carried nitroglycerin across a desert.

A dead bird fell right next to my wheels and was followed by a hectic golf cart in Mardi Gras colors. I recalled reading about birds dropping from the sky. Thank heaven for movies.

One or two people passed me. It seemed as if Duval Street was a sparse outer land as it had been in the 1970s. I crossed the bumpy sidewalk into the Tropic, a sanctuary, careful not to spill another drop.

I moved into the lobby and then the theater itself, dark and comforting. I settled into my space, six feet apart from another Tropic regular who cackled, already anticipating All Hallow’s Eve. On-screen was “The Personal History of David Copperfield” starring Dev Patel. I watched Copperfield’s picaresque wanderings, his scary run-in with Mr. Murdstone (Darren Boyd) and his adventures with Mr. Micawber (Peter Capaldi) and the zany Mr. Dick (Hugh Laurie). I thought of the tradition of the Gothic and how much the dark madcap weirdness of “David Copperfield” reminded me of Roald Dahl.

As I watched the young man scamper here and there, I saw Uriah Heep (Ben Whishaw) snarl and spit at the hero in clear violation of social distancing. I sipped my coffee thinking of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Jaws,” blockbusters of the past when screaming in the movies was a usual occurrence.

Giggling at this film’s entertaining hijinks, I set off home. Down the street I saw a young man, high on Key West and partying, twitching his arms and legs around and shouting. I took the opposite side of the street home thinking of empty streets and black and white horror films especially Vincent Price in “I am Legend.” I pushed all dark thoughts from my mind and greatly looked forward to the upcoming Bill Murray film “On The Rocks” showing next week.

After all, it wasn’t Halloween just yet.

Write Ian at ianfree11@yahoo.com

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