Friday, 11 June 2010

Don't give up hope!

A very busy week and now off on holiday! No films  :(

Don't give up hope. While I'm away I'll be working on a Reel Issues Epic Study of Invictus.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A Challenge!

I've been challenged to say a little more of what I actually think about the films I watch. A reasonable thing to ask. Let me comment further on the two most recent viewings.

It seems that every German city has a Turkish population. I stay with friends in Wiesbaden fairly regularly and they live near the Turkish district - you walk through it on the way into town. This made the film very real for me as I could imagine the scenes from Bremen happening in Wiesbaden. I have been to Istanbul and also to Azerbaijan and the city scenes and country landscapes reminded me of places I had visited in a generic sense. I could feel the heat of Istanbul and the wind on the ferries as they crossed from Asia to Europe. As I said it felt very real and in that sense familiar.

What was unfamiliar to me was the complex web of relationships that drew the six central characters together. I am grateful for that. Loneliness, passion, the need to make a difference, the desire for a quiet life, an openness to help. All of these are emotions and desires that are commonplace and everyday.

Every story is a journey. It seems a little extreme and tragic that so much pain has to be suffered before Nejat was able to seek reconciliation with Ali. Was Lotte kind or simply naive? Was her death something waiting to happen or a terrible coincidence? Did the forgiveness of Suzanne towards Ayten really motivate her to repent and leave prison a de-radicalised person? Would Yeter have been better off staying in the brothel? This film leaves me with many unresolved and possibly unresolvable questions. I am happy with that as I watch films to be stimulated, to have lots of little thoughts set running. Some of these lead nowhere, others get stuck for a bit and then out of the blue weeks down the road off they go again. That is the power of story. A power to enthral, to make you one with the story, to transport you, to raise questions, to show you things you've never even thought of before. When we watch with others, we travel together. Although our destinations may be different we have companions and that is precious.

I greatly appreciated the way in which this story was told. It was clever and non-linear. You had to concentrate and work hard to make the connections. I wonder how many I missed? I guess at the end I felt numb and disappointed. So much pain and hurt for what? But sometimes isn't life like that?

Doubt similarly left me with the same kind of feelings. The central question is 'did he or didn't he?' How you answer that determines how you feel about Father Flynn and in a sense Sister Aloysius. Given the current coverage of priests abusing children, this film has an immediacy that lifts it from the 1960s and plants it firmly in the here and now. This is not simply a story about liberalisation of education, the church and desegregation. It's a story about trust. Of all the people within a community, it is the religious leaders that we should be able to turn to without first having to run their morality over some kind of metric.

In the film, did father Flynn do anything inappropriate with Donald Miller? I was totally prepared to believe Father Flynn's story until he resigned on account of Sister Aloysius' bluff about checking with his previous church and school. Why resign if you are in the clear? Was it simply that he wanted to spare Donald from the publicity that would result? Were the hierarchy complicit in turning a blind eye to abuse? That seed of doubt has been planted and my fertile mind all too readily propagates it and nurtures it to become something much larger, more menacing and destructive than it was to begin with. Is this right?

What are we to make of the battle-axe who is Sister Aloysius? Do two wrongs make a right? Were her good intentions for the welfare of the boy sufficient on their own for her to pursue a witch hunt? What about her disregard for authority and following protocol? What about the state of fear she induced in the community - is that what community is really all about?

As a model for priestly ministry, Father Flynn has much to commend him - and I write as one charged with the formational oversight of priests as they train! His manner was very pastoral. He was unafraid to challenge when it was necessary. His highly contextual and narrative style of preaching had much to commend it. A perfect role model?

The film succeeds in raising doubts about a whole heap of things. I guess it achieved what it set out to do.

I hope that helps. Leave a comment to let me know.