Do you ever wonder what it would be like to forget yourself? To forget what you do? Forget who your friends are? Forget what a spoon is? That’s what Iris Murdoch dealt with in her struggle against Alzheimer's disease and Judy Dench brought it to life beautifully – so beautifully that it hurt to watch it. The scene that particularly touched me was where a postman came to deliver letters and Iris had forgotten what it was that this man who brought the letters was called. When John Bayley (played by Jim Broadbent) reminded her that he was called a postman, she followed him around listlessly saying, “It’s only the postman. It’s only the postman”.
After her friend Janet’s funeral, while she and John were driving back home, she got restless and panicky and threw herself out of their car. John immediately got off to look for her and ended up falling as well. While rolling about in the dirt, he bumped into a heap on the ground which turned out to be Iris. Iris then laboriously said, “I...love…you”.It made me laugh.It made me cry.And that’s what makes a scene truly powerful.
Iris wasn’t your conventional novelist-and-philosopher. She was openly bisexual. She believed in free love. She was fiercely independent. She didn’t care what people said. In one particular scene, John woke up in the middle of the night and asked iris who she was with then. He claimed to hate her. Iris just touched him lightly on his upper arm and he calmed down.
John always remained in awe of Iris (like the rest of the world) , even when she died a peaceful death with him at her side.