I just saw the French film Cezanne et Moi, a powerful and beautifully filmed story about the stormy friendship between the painter Cezanne and the writer Zola. They were both geniuses in their fields and changed the way people saw and knew the world. What struck me about the story was how both precious and challenging friendships are – and how much work they require to maintain and nurture.
Unlike blood relations, there is no connection through birth between friends. They find each other along the way and work to stay close. The friendship between Cezanne and Zola, which began when they were schoolboys and continued into adulthood, was fraught with moments of tension and insult. The moments of light in their friendship were when the two nurtured and respected and encouraged one another, no matter the circumstances. Regrettably, the friendship ended when Zola could no longer endure what he perceived as Cezanne’s extreme self-centeredness and inability to love anyone except himself.
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