• February 26, 2024

Watch Looking Back at Alcoholism and Family | The New Yorker Documentary

[nostalgic music begins]

[Little Girl] Why are you doing this?

[Mother] So that the camera knows and we can

Remember what a great day it was!

Happy Mother’s Day!

[Mother giggles]

[I love you]

[We’re a happy family]

[Mother] Ring around the rose

Hey Sydney, do you want to smile for the camera?

[Woman] You are in a movie.

[Mother] Be happy!

[Man] We have to hurry, we’re running out of tape.

[a baby cries]

[a brief, high-pitched sound]

[phone rings]

[phone rings]

[ a clock ticks in the background]

[phone rings]

[clock stops ticking]

[Sydney] Stace?

Can you hear me?

[Stacey] Yes.

[Sydney] Oh ok. I think it’s recording.

When I first felt that there was something

in a personal film,

I thought it would be about us more

and sisterhood, but the movie started to like …

[Stacey] Well and I think what we realized-

[Sydney] Enter this like,

another dimension. We found that there is

all this other element in space.

When I got back to the videos, mom just stopped filming

after i was like 8-

[Stacey] Oh really?

[Sydney] Easter 2000. Yes.

There are simply no more home videos.

They just end.

[Stacey] Huh.

[Sydney] It’s weird how

She never wanted to see the home videos

but she so insisted

document everything that grows up?

[the cry of seagulls over ocean waves]


[Mother] Honey, wait, I’ll take pictures of Sydney

chase the birds.

[little girls yelling at the birds]

[Stacey] What did you think

when we saw the footage together?

[Sydney] When you are a little kid you are like

How great, I’ve seen it all

I feel like we were lucky enough to have it

even for part of the time.

But I think for them as parents

it was almost more painful to have

and then let it be taken away,

and then really get a grip on how

it doesn’t come back.

[nostalgic music resumes]

[Sydney] When you watch your children grow up

You look at the life that you have

and you project it forward

and just … you know where it ends.

[children talking happily over the sound of the waves]

[Sydney] You wait patiently


she comes back again

Everything else just couldn’t be identified as a mother.

You can’t even grasp the depth of someone else’s depression

but I think we were at least smart enough to know.

[Stacey] You are dealing with forces

so out of your control.

[Mother] [Everybody loves a hukilau]

[Where the maumau eats the powpow at the big luau]

[We throw our nets]

[Out into the sea]

[And all the amaama come a swimming to me]

Come on dance, dance like you learned at the party!

[Sydney] I think I never thought

In fact, she would ever be completely sober.

I just thought we had her for a look.

[Mother] Sydney!

Say hello mom


I love you.

[birds chirping]

[nostalgic music resumes]

[Stacey] And I feel like

for a long time when we were in high school.

when she got sober

We weren’t close.

[Sydney] You mean you and me

[Stacey] Yes.

I think I was just a little quiet

annoyed at how …

In your head it was cut and dry

it was black and white. It was like

You are not sober because you are not trying hard enough

and you don’t care enough about the impact on us

[Sydney] You are probably the reason mom got better.

Because I didn’t

show their compassion.

[Mother] Are you coming to mama

Here, come over to Mommy’s hands.

[Stacey] I was just more and more afraid for her.

You have like 3 small children

that you have to feed and take care of.


There was a lot to do

keep your head above water.

Mama goodbye

Mama goodbye

Mom on a trip?

[soft orchestral music begins]

But i’m coming home!

I’ll come home


[birds chirping]

[Mother] I will come home I promise.

[soft orchestral music resumes]

[languid wind chimes interspersed with birds chirping]

[Stacey] I had a great consolation

sleeping in the same bed with her after she passed out.

To be able to hold her hand when I went to bed.

You can feel their pain at a young age.

[sustained soft orchestral music]

There were so many moments in the night

when she woke up

and just turn around to me and start sobbing, crying

Tell me how sorry she was.

That was real

[nostalgic music]


Where do you turn it off?

I would love to get exactly that. The rest is real life.

What do you want to say to me?

[little girl babbling]

Why don’t you tell me a story or something?

[little girl and mother laugh ]

[baby cries]


I love you.


[mother laughing]

[Sydney] I think the reason why

We are okay


There was never a lack of feeling loved.

[Mother] The most beautiful little girls

in the whole wide world.

[Stacey] That’s the gist of it.

We really all felt

wanted and loved.

[ocean waves]

I wish I could just wave a wand

and mother of all of this deep, deep soothing

She felt guilty.

[ocean waves]

[snap of camera shutter]

[snap of camera shutter]

♪ There’s a place ♪

♪ In my heart ♪

♪ I’m still waiting ♪

♪ For you ♪

♪ There’s a place ♪

♪ In my heart ♪

♪ Just for you ♪

♪ Mm-hm ♪

♪ Even though you hurt me ♪

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