There's this scene in Almost Famous. You know the one. Young William has helped rescue and return Billy Crudup to the boys in the band on the tour bus, after the singer went AWOL and dropped acid at a neighbourhood party. They're all pissed off at each other, the band is. They're sulking. Everyone, silent, as the landscape blurs by the bus. From that magical place that exists only in the movies, music suddenly emerges, the subdued, confectious, contagious joy of Elton John's Tiny Dancer. As the song builds, the band beings to sing, united in their love for music, until ultimately Billy Crudup joins in, too, the animosity forgotten, the music binding their bond even tighter.
It's a scene that could have been sappy and trite, but the writer-director, Cameron Crowe, undercuts the good-natured togetherness by having William tell Penny Lane, the groupie, that he has to go home. "You are home," she answers, the look on his face indicating that he doesn't quite believe her. Or disbelieve her, for that matter. His confused, adolescent ambiguity is what transforms a feel-good scene into something deeper, darker, richer.
Even so. Watching that scene, I can believe, if only for a moment, that some things can last. I know, I know -- disease and age will eventually overtake us all, bring us all down for the count. Even so. Watching this scene, I can hear the music, and watch the world go by through the windows of a bus, and imagine, if only fleetingly, a togetherness and resonance that will endure, even ascend.