Sunday, November 23, 2008
My TiVo added the movie Annie to its TiVo's Suggestions folder (how did it know I was Theater major in college?), and I watched some of it tonight. I would guess that most people have heard the song "Tomorrow" — though far fewer have ever heard it in context. Out of context, "Tomorrow" is a relentlessly positive song, almost unbearably cheerful... which is why many people despise it.
In context though, it's an entirely different matter. Annie was abandoned by her parents in 1922. As we start the show, it's 1933. Eleven-year-old Annie still refuses to hate the parents who left her at the Dickensian orphanage that is her home, singing first a heartbreaking song called "Maybe" where she imagines her parents as loving and smart (adding sweetly that "their one mistake was givin' up me").
Annie has tried to run away numerous times, and she finally succeeds only to find herself out on the streets of New York City in the depths of the Great Depression. That's where she runs into a stray dog she names Sandy, and in order to cheer him up, she sings about "Tomorrow."
To review: a child abandoned by her parents... escapes the horrible orphanage she's been imprisoned in her whole life (which is run by a cruel drunk)... and now finds herself homeless in Depression-era New York... still finds it within her to sing "The sun'll come out tomorrow, so ya gotta hang on 'til tomorrow come what may..." in order to cheer someone else up.
The context radically changes the meaning of the whole thing.
(By the way — in the end, Annie finds out (from FDR of all people) that her real parents are, in fact, dead. Take that, Cats!)