Title: Get Real
Written by: Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider
Directed by: Michael Katleman
Aired: December 9, 1991
Log Line: Magic is in the air when the circus comes to Cicely. Marilyn becomes romantically involved with The Flying Man, while Holling fears his passion for Shelly may be waning when he realizes her feet are big.
Listen to the podcast of the episode here.
The Suggestion of Flight
Bill Irwin’s breakout work was called The Regard of Flight. (You can see a filmed performance of this piece on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AVifTdjtvE. Highly recommended.) While we never actually see the Flying Man (played beautifully by Bill Irwin) fly in this episode, there are references and images related to flight threaded throughout this episode, many of them cleverly obscured or barely visible. The images below highlight some of the references to birds and flight.
Framing Marilyn and the Flying Man
When the Flying Man tries to court Marilyn while walking down the street with her, the scene is shot as a long tracking shot with no edits. Its tone fits the silence of the Flying Man and the quietness of Marilyn. It is also a long shot, filmed from across the street. We are watching them from a distance, not intruding on this moment between them, somewhat like watching two rare birds interact, trying not to disturb them. The scene also has a symmetry. It opens with Marilyn walking by herself, shows them meeting (with a white vertical line between them), shows them walking down the street until a telephone pole comes between them, and ends with the Flying Man standing by himself. The camera stays on the other side of the street the entire time.
When Marilyn and the Flying Man are shown at the picnic, the camera initially seems to be sneaking around behind trees while shooting them, again trying not to disturb the couple. Eventually, the camera moves in closer and closer on them, allowing us to glimpse the relationship that’s clearly developing between them.
The goodbye scene between Marilyn and the Flying Man is an unedited long take, like the courtship scene that was shot from across the street earlier. As with the picnic, the shot opens with brightly coloured leaves obscuring part of the frame. We are watching them from a distance. Slowly, the camera moves in on them, eventually ending with them holding hands. Sadness fills the screen.
Themes / Recurrences: Language; physics/magic; relationships; flight.
The Good: The relationship between Marilyn and the Flying Man is told with great use of silence, visuals, music, and acting. Both Bill Irwin and Elaine Miles shine in this episode.
The Bad: The episode felt overly crammed with story lines. We would have been happy to see more of the Flying Man and Cirque du Soleil.
The Notable: Armenia Miles, previously seen portraying Mrs. Anku in episode 1.2, returns to Northern Exposure as the fictional mother of Marilyn, played by her real-life daughter, Elaine Miles.
On’s Rating: 8.0 out of 10.
Shane’s Rating: 8.5 out of 10.