Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Steve McQueen & the Hound of Heaven by K. V. Turley

From what had he fled?
From what was he running?
What was it that pursued him?
The film titles give us some clues, as does his pace of life, the rapidity of his mood swings, the speed of his reactions—all lived as if in a race, one that, as he grew older, got ever more fast until the inevitable occurred: time ran out.
What the Hollywood star’s biographies sidestep is that ending. In a strange way it makes sense of all the rest. That final ‘performance’ was a role much older than any that he had acted upon the silver screen, and, for once, it really was a matter of life and death. This is an alternate look at the life and death of Terence Steven McQueen.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him
There was the broken home. The violence, the neglect, the desertion, the young McQueen shuffled between his native Indiana, Missouri, and eventually California, passing from one home to another. The child knew mostly misery, but, nevertheless, he had been given something. Somewhere, someone decided that he needed to be baptized a Catholic just as his mother had been before him. In the biographies it is mentioned in passing—understandably, as it appeared to have made little difference to the boy, the adolescent, and, later, the man… but it did matter….
In his case, what passed for childhood soon turned the boy into a troubled youth. With no home, he ended up on the streets before being sent by a court to one that was there to reform boys like him. The Boys Republic was to be the start of the end of childhood; for the young McQueen it was also the beginning of a mistrust of institutions—the image of authority long since fractured for this child from a broken home. It is worth bearing that in mind before jumping to any ready-made conclusions. For better or worse we are shaped by our first environments, by those early years—looking at what the future movie star was dealt in life, perhaps we should be grateful. Looking back now, it appears the only thing McQueen had been given was resentment. The rage that it engendered fueled the race that now began as he fled from personal demons he could barely comprehend, let alone free himself from.
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