Family, Duty and Sacrifice

Fleeing your old life, everything you know and love, in the hope of a better life, is a common story for many of the worlds refugees. I the movies “the good lie” and “the kite runner” both centre around characters leaving their old life because of a conflict they barely manage to escape. In the story, lays messages and themes the viewer may benefit from considering.

A shared theme is that of family, different ways one may cope with the loss of members, and what it even is.

In the kite runner, the first major conflict is between the protagonist, Amir, and his half-brother/best friend, Hassan. We are repeatedly shown Hassan being fiercely loyal to Amir, often to a fault. The clearest example may be when Hassan is (presumably) raped by one of the recurring characters, Assef, who serves as the movies antagonist. In an attempt to purge his guilt for not intervening, Amir makes it seem as Hassan stole his watch. When Hassan is “caught”, instead of denying the accusations, he simply admits to the crime. This leads to his guardian/father figure, Ali, moving out, taking Hassan with him. So, despite losing his home, Hassan still says nothing as to not shame his friend. This exemplifies a loyalty one rarely sees outside of family. Despite neither of them knowing their blood-ties at the time. Hassan clearly saw Amir as a brother.

We see the opposite from Amir later in the movie. At this point, Amir is a grown man, and lives a safe life in the US, while Hassan died years ago. When he is informed that Hassan had a child, he sees it as his obligation to save the boy, Sohrab, from the captivity of a certain antagonist, who now has turned to terrorism. Of course, this sense of duty partially comes from a desire to redeem himself, but as he says himself: “The boy is my nephew”. Here we see Amir feeling compelled to help a family member, despite never having met his.

What is the difference between Amir and Hassan’s loyalty? While Amir partly acts due to the child being his nephew, Hassan is loyal to those he sees as family. Weather or not they actually share a close ancestry. This blurs the line between family and friendship so that those you value dearly may be seen as family.

The good lie echoes a similar message. This movie bases itself on the stories of real refugees. Here, an ever-shrinking group of Sudanese children has to flee their village after it is burned down. When they finally reach a refugee camp, they’re only four left, with almost twice as many having embarked on the journey. One of those who were lost, was the brother of one of our main characters, Mamere. Theo, as his name was, drew the attention of some soldiers so that the others may escape. Even years later, Mamere still blamed himself for Theos apparent death.

He was not alone in this sentiment. Paul, another survivor, saw it as Mamere’s responsibility to sacrifice, yet he “forced Theo to do it”. Mamere gets a shot at redemption however, when he receives a letter from someone claiming to be Theo. After verifying that the message wasn’t from an imposter. He tried to get Theo a passport, so they could return to the US together. This fails however, and he gives Theo his own passport. When Mamaere does this, he symbolically returns the life Theo gave him all those years ago. As such, he views the “debt” as paid. This follows the theme of duty to family. When Mamere returned to Sudan, he promised himself, and the others that he would get Theo home, no matter the cost. In the end, he sacrificed his own ticket to a better life for those he loves.

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The Forgotten War And It’s Victims

“The forgotten war” as it is often called, is a civil war currently happening in Yemen. The country, which is among the poorest in the middle east, has since 2015 been suffering from a civil war between several factions, including terrorist groups, for example the Houthis, and the government. The situation is further complicated because of the blockade initiated by Saudi Arabia, that halts trade, and prevents foreign aid to reach those who need it. As a result, the country is on the brink of famine, with almost half the population not getting proper sustenance. A large part of these food shortages also affects young children.

Bilderesultat for yemen child

The most well-known image from the conflict, is of a dangerously malnourished child, who is seen here on the brink of death. This is not a rare occurrence in today’s Yemen. In 2017, more than 50 000 children died of starvation or lack of sanitation.

The reason this image was so striking to me, was how common it is, and how little we hear of it. While the eyes of the media are fixed on the newest and most attention-grabbing occurrences like North Korea, a country on the verge of collapse is rarely mentioned. In addition, the photograph itself, truly manages to convey the suffering much of Yemen’s population is going through. Even though the picture itself boarders on disturbing, the facts behind it is what truly makes it stand out from the other conflicts in my eyes.

It’s a long time since I first saw the image, but such a distraught face is not something you easily forget.

An analysis of direction and messages in “spotlight”

Directed by Tom McCarthy, and written by him and Josh Singer, “spotlight” tells the story of how a group of “The Boston Globe”-reporters exposed the organised protection of podophile priests in the catholic church.

Considering McCarthy won an independent spirit award in 2007, it`s not surprising that every scene in the movie is masterfully directed. There are two scenes in particular that stood out to me. The first, is a short montage that shows our main cast working through Christmas. We are shown how dedicated they are to get every aspect of the report perfect. In this case there are two aspects that are repeated, getting the story out just after Christmas, and to get it out before some other publication can butcher the story, and make it easy for the Vatican to bury it again. We also see how much the story is on everybody’s mind, even outside of work. For example, we see Rachel McAdams character, Sacha getting incredibly agitated by the smallest of inconveniences, following her interviewing dozens of rape-victims.

The other scene is when the newspapers with the story are being printed and distributed at the end of the movie. When the camera skims across the production line, we see the massive number of news papers being made. The is the payoff of the movie, what might be the greatest exposé in the history of journalism being distributed to hundreds upon thousands of readers, and this scene perfectly relates to the viewer the gravitas of the situation, especially considering the huge number of places where similar activity was shown to be practised at the very end of the movie.

I think the main message of the film is that you should never ignore people’s wrongdoings simply because of what that person represents to you. In the movie, a major victory for the journalists was when an Irish catholic judge chose to release damning evidence of the Vatican covering up child molestation by church officials, despite being catholic herself.

My thoughts the movie “Lion”

When watching the movie, it quickly becomes clear that the movie explores the question of identity, what experiences defines us as people? and how do define our family”. After a short introduction of the protagonist, Saroo, and his family, he gets lost due to sneaking on a train. The subsequent scenes show Saroo facing many hardships while trying to find his way back home. Many of these scenes consist of him barely avoiding getting kidnapped, presumably to be sent to a sweat shop. At one occasion, we even se a security guard completely ignoring Saroo being chased. This, in junction with the governments poor handling of Saroo after he is brought in and attempted identified, may be a critique of how widespread the problem of homeless children has become in India.

About half-way through the movie, Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple. Shortly after, we see that he quickly settles in to his new home, before the movie jumps twenty years forward in time. At this point, Saroo has become successful hotel manager. However, he is still haunted by thoughts about his biological family and is unable to shake off the guilt of “leaving them”.

After some time, Saroo starts considering attempting to track down his biological family. He starts secretly studying everything from train-speeds, to maps of India, to try to locate his. This is all done in secret though, seemingly to hide his growing identity-crisis.

Final thoughts: The movie lion manages to ask many questions about both identity and family. The name may refer to Saroo trying to track down his past, looking for answers, and to finally let his biological mother know what happened to her son. The name may refer to his rigorous hunt for reconciliation.

 

A comparison of the reluctant fundamentalist

Like most mediums, movies and books convey information in very different ideas. When writing a book, one will have a much easier time defining a character’s thoughts, while a movie can include smaller details without explicitly mentioning them. This difference in storytelling will obviously lead to differences between a movie`s and a book`s focus, and messages.

When looking for differences between the book “the reluctant fundamentalist” and the movie, the first thing that stands out is the way one of the two protagonists are written. “The American”, the man speaking to the story`s other protagonist (Changez) in the Lahore café, is a mystery in the book. We know nothing of his identity or intentions, while in the movie, we are clearly shown that he is a journalist working with the CIA trying to get useful information from Changez. Changez hasn’t been spared the change of format either. His view of America is probably the most significant distinctions between his two interpretations. In the movie, he states at several times that he is “a lover of America”, while in the book, he has a more critical view of the country.

Other characters are also quite different in the movie compared to the book. Erica, the most prevalently shown, clearly struggles less with mental illness in the movie. While we never hear anything about her being sent an asylum, she still struggles with the loss of her boyfriend Chris. Instead of simply being sick, her struggles come from a stronger feeling of guilt. This difference arises from the difference in how Erica’s life-long friend lost his life. In the book, Chris simply died from cancer, while in the movie, Erica accidently killed him. While drunk, she crashed a car with him in the passenger seat. The Erica-plot doesn’t really affect Chanegz`s development in the movie however, and may simply be a nod to the book.

Now, how does the message of the movie differ from the book. The movie seems to be a criticism of the needlessly aggressive way America has acted in the middle east after 9/11. In the movie, simple paranoia gets several innocent people killed towards the end of the movie.

The books message however, may be that fundamentalism of all kinds has the potential to become dangerous. In the book, we see both religious and patriotic fundamentalism. Both lead to violence against civilians.

My thoughts on the reluctant fundamentalist so far

The reluctant fundamentalist is a book written by Mohsin Hamid and published in 2007, and follows an anonymous American, the one we see the story through.

The entirety of the story happens in a café in Lahore, Pakistan. In the beginning of the story, we, through the American, meet Changez, a native who invites the mysterious figure to a cup of tea, and to tell his lives story. Thus, the setting of the story changes as the book progresses, from Pakistan, to America, to the Philippines.

The book is written in a very unusual style, we hear what Changez says, while it is implied the American speaks, but we never know exactly what is said. I usually don’t like this way of telling a story, as it often becomes disorganized and hard to follow, but here, it`s done very well.

As of chapter five, it is not clear exactly how the title relates to Changez life, but I`m exited to get to know the character.

A comparison of “my son the fanatic” and “free for all”

When comparing the two short stories in terms of father-son relationships, there are several similarities, but also some differences. Both stories revolve around a father and a son, one of whom has problems with integrating into western culture, and one who embraces it. The difference lays in who fills what role. In “my son the fanatic”, the son stands stanchly against western ideals, favouring a more conservative Islamic doctrine. As the story advances, it becomes more and more clear that he does not accept his father’s “lifestyle”.

In “free for all”, the roles are reversed. Here, the father demands his son to conform to his somewhat sold school idea of civility, wanting his son to cut his hair short, and stop playing guitar. The son, refusing to obey his father, sets him up to look abusive to the court.

The stories seem to comment on how easily teenagers can change or be manipulated, while trying to assert their own identity.