Anyone reading this blog who knows me will know that I am a huge admirer of Majid Majidi’s work. He can tell stories in a way that very few people can. And he coaches incredible performances out of very young actors. In honor of springtime, you really should check out his film, Range Khoda (literally “The Color of God” but released as “The Color of Paradise”).
Here’s the trailer:
An excerpt from Elie Wiesel’s Night, an autobiography of the Holocaust:
“And why do you pray, Moishe?” I asked him.
“I pray to the God within me for the strength to ask Him the real questions.”
I saw a great independent film this evening, Phoebe in Wonderland. It is about a little girl who is different and has trouble conforming to society’s idea of a well-adjusted child. She finds her home in theater as that is the only place where she feels free to express her imagination and creativity openly.
The cinematography was well done. It did a great job of evoking the mood of the various environments where this little girl is living–home, school, the theater, and Wonderland. The acting was superb. Elle Fanning displays the same maturity in her role that her older sister, Dakota, has become famous for. Felicity Huffman, Bill Pullman, Patricia Clarkson, and young Bailee Madison all consistently hit their emotional beats. Every character feels so real. Her father, mother, little sister, her drama teacher, her principal–all feel vaguely like you’ve met them before.
The film poses some great questions. The various themes are all evident but not overstressed. One of the biggest themes that struck me was the question of when is a child just being a child and when do they need psychological help? It was great to see a film that did not over-romanticize childhood. Too often, films about childhood make it look like this idyllic state that we should never have left behind. Granted, childhood does have those moments, but it also has a lot of bullies, and confusion, and painful moments of growing up. Phoebe finds herself retreating more and more into her “Wonderland” when life becomes too difficult for her to handle. And how well can she work through her conflicting moments? She’s nine years old! Her parents don’t know how much to give her the freedom to imagine and be creative and when it is time to find her help. I won’t give away the end of the story because you all really need to go see it! It will hopefully be released in September!
Every once in a while I see a movie that, for lack of a better word, devastates me. And I use that word in its original meaning, “to thoroughly lay waste”. I walk out and I feel like every preconceived idea has been blasted and I find myself surveying the rubble of myself. All I want to do is go somewhere to think…and pray.
The Kite Runner did that to me today. I had read the book over winter break. It touched me deeply and I found myself misty-eyed several times while I was reading. The themes of transgression, honor, forgiveness, brotherly love, and redemption all set in a part of the world that is very close to my heart. I naively thought I was prepared to see the film. I already knew the story, right? So much of the story is internal as well. How could that possibly translate well to the screen? But, I think watching the film touched me even more deeply than reading the book.
I am sitting here trying to figure out why I had more of an emotional reaction to the film than the book. For one thing, seeing the characters in their natural environment was very touching to me. Though I have never been to Afghanistan, the market, the houses and courtyards, the faces of people were all very familiar to me. I feel like someone brought a video camera into my backyard. For another thing, there are expressions and movements that just can’t be captured in writing; no matter how great the writer. There are things that can only be fully expressed through images. And lastly, I think that there is something about seeing a person saying the words, real flesh and blood talking to you (through the medium of 35mm film) that just can’t compare to printed words on a page. That (albeit fake) interaction with another human is profoundly meaningful.
I know that every author who reads this blog will probably be offended. I am even a little hesitant to write this. These are all new ideas to me. I love books! I don’t want to say that they come up short anywhere! And I will grant you, there are some things that can be expressed much better through writing than through images. But this evening, I really believe there is something about seeing another man and not just ink that is more powerful.
I mean, after all, isn’t that why the Word became flesh?
I’m sitting here reveling in my Appalachian heritage and listening to Bluegrass. I like the instruments and I like the themes of the songs. So many of them hearken back to Scotch-Irish storytelling.