Last week I watched Scared Sacred, which I missed in the movie theatre. I watched it twice, the second time with Fi. In this documentary, the film-maker, Velcrow Ripper, visits the scenes of humanity's worst atrocities to humanity. He goes to Bosnia, Cambodia, Hiroshima, Israel and Bhopal India. In the middle of making the film, the World Trade Centre bombings happened, so he went to New York too. In each place he talks to survivors about how they find light in the darkness. They tell him how they made it through the worst and darkest days and how they are able to trust, love and find meaning in life after what they have lived through. The answers are what I might have expected - people find the will to live and to keep believing that life is good through art, faith, societal reform, love for one another, helping with the healing of others and making the world safer for the people who survive - but the immediacy of the personal narratives blew me away. I keep playing the interview with Aki from Cambodia over and over in my head. This man was captured by the Khmer Rouge as a young boy. His parents were murdered. He was forced to be a child soldier and plant landmines all over the countryside. He was tortured. He was not allowed to cry. It was a rule that everyone had to smile and laugh, despite their pain and fear. As I watched him smiling through the interview I thought, "This is a broken person. How can he ever be well and whole again?" But then there he is, digging up and disarming landmines - sometimes 50 in one day, to make his country safe again. In the film, he finds a landmine and cheerfully demonstrates where it's safe to touch it and where one must not touch it. He casually slaps it with his hand and his stick before turning it over to remove the fuse. Something about that scene makes me cry even thinking about it. The narrator explains that he has disarmed thousands of these landmines. This is what he does. The film makes a convincing case. It says that for survivors, telling the story of what happened, and contributing to the healing of their place and people is a healing experience for themselves.
Today I watched Elephant. It's the story of high school massacre, shown from the point of view of individual students. As I watched it, I knew where it was leading, and I was dreading it. I was also fascinated by the portrayal of student lives. The camera mostly followed each of the actors around, often just 2 steps behind as they moved from one place to another, and interacted with one another, their parents and teachers. Each character became more intensely human but also surreally robot-like as situations were viewed from 2 or three different perspectives with slightly varied time-frames. The effect was to put me inside what might be the thinking of someone preparing to go into the school and start shooting. As the people in the story looked more and more like Sims characters, the idea of planning and executing a massacre became more intellectual and less real. The climax of the movie makes it all real again, brutally so. This isn't an easy movie to watch, but it is excellent for what it is and does.
Finally, we watched Oliver the 1968 Academy Award winning musical. Well, I watched the first half of the 150 minute movie then went to bed. Fi watched all of it. She'll be in her school production of it this Spring. Holy smokes, that's a good musical. The production numbers are hard to fathom, especially given the age of the film, and no special effects to make the scenery look more grand. The song "Consider Yourself" must have employed 200 dancers, spanned 4 city blocks of studio space with roads, buildings, houses, horses etc and it is over-the-top with creativity. There's a whole section in which butchers are chopping meat and dancing with pieces of it and they become part of the music. It sounds macabre, but it's beautiful! I missed most of the dramatic part of it, quitting at intermission. I'll have to try act 2 some time this week.
question: documentary, drama or musical? which would you choose for your next view?
mompoet - some of each, please