“Lord, judge us not by our weakness, but by our love.” Kathryn Hepburn, The African Queen
I just watched The African Queen and I can’t help but have a new obsession. Kathryn is beautiful and determined. Its the story of a woman living in the Belgian Congo (damn it) during World War I, taking care of her missionary brother. The village they lived in is invaded by the Germans, her brother dies, and Rose (Kathryn) finds herself alone in a world that is burning down around her. A rugged American who works in the region comes back to find her and they set off down the river in his steam boat, the African Queen. Rose immediately indicates that she is unwilling to sit back and wait for the war to end. She convinces Charlie (Humphrey Bogart) to sail his steam boat down a river that is believed to be impassable in order to reach a German ship that is blocking the British army from entering the region (and stopping the German army from press-ganging the local population into armed service) and destroy it.
Rose isn’t passive. She takes on a nearly impossible task rather than stand idly by. She is exhilarated by the challenge, by the thrill of the unknown and the active. She laughs with this beautiful, bright eyed excitement after her first experience of danger. She takes the helm and she doesn’t look back. She knows she could, in fact likely would, die. And still, she moves forward. She is determined and she is steadfast. She doesn’t get angry or snappy or selfish. She is sassy, and fiery, and sure. She never argues with Charlie, but she doesn’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t let him get in her way.
To the very end, she holds equally to her faith, herself, and her drive. She knows who she is, she knows what she wants, and she’s willing to face death to follow her path to its finish. Love and live. Who could ever want to do less?