Movie Salon – Paternity’s Burden of Perpetual Protection

This Movie Salon’s suggestion of films to watch for the upcoming Discourse Parlor:

  • In a Better World, 2010.  Directed by Susanne Bier.  Written by Anders Thomas Jensen.
  • The Lovely Bones, 2009. Directed by Peter Jackson.  Written by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

In this edition of the Salon we focus on two films which are, from the point of view of your Lookout, explorations in this emergent story-ness we’ve come to term the Narrative Otherways.  Both tales will be mulled over in the forthcoming Parlor as indicators of the narrative shift away from our antediluvian conception of paternity to point in directions of other, more responsive embodiments of what being a father, these days, entails.

Both are of a father’s anguished figuring on how to respond to the infliction of pain, loss, and injustice upon his family, striking in that way of misfortune with dawning dread, seemingly random and from out of nowhere.  In a Better World traces a doctor’s walk in the shadow of evil from the windswept tents and oozing sores of an African incarnation of it in a terrorizing “Big Man” to Denmark’s land of summer houses and detailed educational plans.  Here the father must engage with a more internalized evil that threatens to incarnate in his own young son.  In The Lovely Bones a father loses his daughter to a serial murderer of young women, a monstrous evil beyond comprehension.  How is a father to absorb, counteract, fight to get back what’s lost by the happenstance of being in the path of evil?  Is it possible?

Both tales are representative of a bundle of activity now taking place around the disintegrating morphology of the male narrative.  They turn over, touch and feel the texture of our ancestral response to evil which has had almost always to do with violence, to match it or more, and often, after the damage done, with revenge.  As if a man could extract some sort of evening out to evil’s crippling, as if an eye for an eye leveled it all, rather than bred more of it.  Exponentially.  And how to trace back this lethal mix of violence and revenge through its tap-root in the definition of fatherhood as he who protects?

Which is also to ask, if a father fails at protecting, then are revenge and retribution his duty to take?  And once taken, it that then justice?  

A related rumination on paternity (or its rejection) can be found by watching  Somewhere, 2010. Written and directed by Sofia Coppola.  This panorama of nihilistic realism is set in Coppola’s own backyard of Hollywood celebrity.  And it’s not a pretty picture.  Which is why I decided to give it a home on The End of the Male Narrative branch of our Family Tree of Stories. (Thanks to netizen Theresa Majeres for bringing it back to our attention.)


NEW to Periodic Links:

  • Everything is a Remix.  A webvideo series.  Where Kirby Ferguson makes his case that “creativity” entails remixing and building on all and everything that has come before.
  • Embrace your inner girlA 19:55 minute rant of inspiration by Eve Ensler speaking bluntly of the power of girls and transformation, of “protecting the girl cells within us all.” 

And over in our always growing Tree of Stories:

NEW to the branch of Reasons to Keep the Faith:

  • The Other Woman- Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.  Tackles the back end of the story of the sexy, intelligent woman who does get the married man away from his family and for herself.  And what happens next.  
  • Days and Clouds.  How we define ourselves through the work we do.  How the loss of a husband’s working life shakes a marriage with denial, assumptions, cars breaking down, etc.  And how a marriage can transform and survive because both parties in it help each other to grow in response to inevitable change.
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