Saturday, February 11, 2017

Movie review: "Louder than bombs" versus "Rashomon"

Recently I saw a superb movie with French actress Isabelle Huppert, "Louder than bombs" (2015). It is about a deceased woman photojournalist who is remembered in very different ways by her widowed husband, her adult and recently married son, her shy teenage son, and her lover. It deals with memory, grief, identity, and with the different perspectives the same person can evoke in those around her, especially those who knew her well. Each one of us fights against one's own difficulties, believes in one's own hopes, and that clouds our remembrances of even the deepest relationships. The son may not understand a conflicted father who lived a problematic relationship with a disturbed person, the father may have not seen the depth of the love of his partner for the children. We do not know if each person's perspective is entirely true, only partially true or even a fantasized version of reality. Would a son actually prefer a make-belief story about a loving mother rather than face the truth about an uncaring one?

The movie immediately reminded me of "Rashomon" (1950) and how one can never know the truth about human relationships, perhaps we may not even know our true selves,  since we always embellish our thoughts about the role we have in the world and among others, afraid of the responsibilities we failed or the fact that we are all irrelevant or troublesome even to our relatives. Contradiction is an inevitable part of human being, because each one of us wants to draw a moral painting of our lives and how we lived.

I finish with some thoughts of Akira Kurosawa on the impact of the Rashomon script on his closest associates: "Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. This script portrays such human beings–the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are. It even shows this sinful need for flattering falsehood going beyond the grave — even the character who dies cannot give up his lies when he speaks to the living through a medium. Egoism is a sin the human being carries with him from birth; it is the most difficult to redeem. This film is like a strange picture scroll that is unrolled and displayed by the ego. You say that you can’t understand this script at all, but that is because the human heart itself is impossible to understand. If you focus on the impossibility of truly understanding human psychology and read the script one more time, I think you will grasp the point of it."

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