Sunday, July 8, 2012

Love, friendship and separation - Different languages, universal themes

Some themes are universal, the themes of love, friendship and separation for example. I have been spending evenings in my apartment room seeing some exemplary cinema. I realized when I saw the brilliant collection of foreign language movies in the Stuttgart library that, this is one world - a world that is neither hollywood nor bollywood - that I had never experienced.  I took the plunge...

Mommo (Turkish)  -

A brother and sister, at a tender age come to terms with the harsh reality of their mother's death and their father's remarriage. They live with their grandfather and suffer the torment of their father cold-shouldering them and favoring their half-brother. Mommo is heartrending, beautiful and disturbing at the same time. 

They say, the purest form of love is unselfish where two people trust each other completely. Ahmet's love for Ayse in this Turkish movie is a fine example. He does everything in his capacity to make her feel happy and cared for. The poverty of the village, the bleak future staring at them and the unceasing slander machinery of the neighborhood seem to have little effect on the boy. His answers to many of his sister's innocent questions exhibit a maturity and sense of responsibility beyond his age.

Many times during the course of this one and half hour movie, I felt a lump in my throat. 

La lengua de las mariposas (Spanish)

This story takes place just before the onset of the civil war in Spain. Moncho is apprehensive about his first day at school but in no time begins a beautiful friendship with his teacher, Don Gregario. The two make for an unlikely couple. The boy’s intelligence and curiosity and the old man’s love for nature gel together and make for delightful viewing.

Moncho’s brother Andrés is smitten by a mysterious woman while his own father has an illicit daughter in the village. These sidetracks offer rich glimpses into the Spanish society of the age. 

Of special mention is the part in the movie when the teacher quotes the Spanish poet Antonio Machado from one of his sonnets, “A deserted bed, a cloudy mirror, and an empty heart” when the boy asks his teacher about his wife.

Äideistä parhain (Finnish)

Eero crosses over to Sweden against his will along with numerous other children during world war II. Separated from his mother and having lost his father to the brutalities of the war, he walks into a home only to be received by a frigid Swede in Signe Jönsson. The boy tries in vain to escape to Finland risking his life in the process. Fortunately, Hjalmar, Signe’s husband befriends him. 

With time, Eero understands why Signe often loses her temper. The portrayal of the relationship between the child and the transformed Signe is movie making at its best. Soon a time comes when the boy has to return to his biological mother, who, by then is grappling with guilt. 

This story, at its core is about separation. The two world wars did unimaginable damage to the fabric of the European society but they also shed light on what can only be termed the tenderness of the human spirit. Classic moviemaking!

Turkish, Finnish or Spanish, the language might be different, but certain themes are universal. Movies like these also impart cultural lessons and for that single reason alone, are worth taking an interest in!

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