Posts Tagged ‘ susanne bier ’

Paternity Parlor part two – Fathers and Sons and Violence.

How a man refuses violence to protect his son in Susanne Bier’s In a Better World

How does a father raise a son to grow within our tangled conception of manhood?  What part of  how to be a man has altogether to do with violence?  The use of it.  Being familiar with its force and workings?  Linknote

The story of Anton, the father in Susanne Bier’s In a Better World, begins in Africa; a land where acts of homicide and mutilation by rogue bullymen are given reason by our insatiable desire for the raw materials and sparkling stones still to be found there.  Everyone’s culpable in this endless play of centrifugal nihilism. Beast us.  Mostly I let myself tune out those stories because, well, I must keep my hope.

But Bier does not tune out.  Nor does she leave us to wallow but riffs off the bold outline of an African manifestation tracing the bully pattern from its stark exposition there to dig at its more disguised and familiar roots in the resource consuming landscape of Denmark.  Here, with two fathers who must engage with an evil that threatens to incarnate in their own young sons, Bier goes at the heart of troubling questions about our bully selves: how to exhume and release the ancient hold of violence on us?  How to counter the monster bullies that are groomed and given life by violence without giving birth to that malignancy in ourselves?  More fundamentally, if our emotional mechanisms default to the use of force, especially when we are wounded, in doubt or under stress, could these be reframed as only one of many innate propensities in us to be given encouragement, or not, by our structures, familial and institutional?  Continue reading


Parlor Discourse on Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding.

This Discourse, our first, bears a heavier weight for defining what this is all about than those that will follow.  So a reminder that this is not a review.  From the get go I scout for and write only on stories that illuminate in some way the directional shift I perceive in the narrative swirl around us.

Sidse Babett Knudsen & Mads Mikkelsen in After The Wedding

Sidse Babett Knudsen & Mads Mikkelsen in After The Wedding

So as for the film After the Wedding.  It took a bit of running in circles but I think I’ve uncovered the light it casts on our exploration.  It is an evolution of the old familiar tale of the Hunter, the one who takes life in order to perpetuate his own.  And it offers a way for the Hunter himself to transform into something perhaps more helpful for all of us today.  Let me know if you think I’m on the right track.

Sincerely, your Lookout.  

Susanne Bier’s story is built on two men, both hunters of a sort, from opposite ends of the earth, both on a journey of family and paternity.  It begins in India with Jacob Pederson, a man with a mission, literally, for orphans.  They are his family and his fatherly role is to provide for them.  Jacob tells the boys that the West where he comes from is dirty. But the story’s barely begun before Jacob must travel back to those origins on a hunt for money.  Turns out, he’s willing to get his hands dirty in order to save his family of lost boys, to give them hope for a future.

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