Saturday, January 28, 2012

Incendies

I wish all the people who talk so loosely of revolution, insurrection or civil war would see the Quebec film, Incendies. I won't say they'd enjoy it, but they'd have a lot better idea of the real cost of such wars for ordinary people, those who didn't ask for it, but end up brutalized by it.

Today we hear a lot of lose talk on the war on Christmas, the war on the rich, the war on the poor, and on it goes with blame being dispersed many different ways as to who is guilty of the problems in our country. Well one thing that is not going on is anything like what the main character in Incendies experienced when she was born into a country where there was a real, violent and very brutal civil war between Muslims and Christians. Although it's not specifically mentioned, it is likely based on what Lebanon went through in the 70s.

The story begins in modern times as a brother and sister, twins living in Canada, discover, when their recently deceased mother, Naval's will is being read, by her employer, their family benefactor, and a notary, that she wants them to contact their father and brother and deliver a letter to each.

Jeanne and Simon not only didn't know they had a brother but had thought their father had been killed. Jeanne feels an obligation to find the truth of her mother's past and travels to her homeland for the answers. If there is a father still alive, she wants to find out. Simon doesn't want to open this can of worms and only reluctantly joins her after Jeanne calls him begging for his help as the story she has discovered is more complex than she can bear alone. Lebel, the notary, comes with him as a help that likely without the mystery would not be able to be unraveled.

The sub-titled film is brilliantly done but violent and about subjects that many of us would rather not think as in the complexity of life, the consequences of actions, and sometimes how things beyond our control can mark us for life. I do recommend it; but if you are already convinced civil wars are bad, if you cannot tolerate facing how brutal life can be (it's not graphic but emotional in the impact of the violence), it probably is one to skip.

I am glad I saw it as once in awhile I think I need such reminders for why it's important to speak out for peaceful solutions to our own national problems. It is also a good reminder of how fortunate we are to have been born into countries without such vicious, government-led violence. Oh I know our police sometimes hit those they consider out of line or breaking the law.  The violence these people experienced was on a whole different level. Let's keep it that way.

7 comments:

Tabor said...

I think as long as there is such a ceiling on how people can progress economically we are very much on the edgy of civil violence. It will result in a crackdown by the powers that be and we will become a very different type of country with curtailed freedoms. I am so hoping I am wrong. Currently reading "Cutting for Stone" a fictional account of two twin men living in Ethiopia during their political revolutions.

Paul said...

I am absolutely for peace, but I realize that this nation came into being as a result of a revolution. And the tyranny of the British who controlled the American colonies.

Rain said...

Before the Revolutionary War, the British were occupiers much like we are regarded in the Middle East. I don't think we should look at the situation the same way for today when we do have a vote and if Americans don't get themselves informed about issues regarding facts, it's their own laziness. To do a revolution here today would just mean someone preferred violence to working for it. And violence won't work. It backfires time and again. Maybe even our country would have been ahead if we had negotiated for our freedom as Canada did. We did it and we set a violent response as our answer which led us directly to the Civil War. Hopefully we won't go through that again as the human toll on ordinary people is horrible.

And I agree, we are facing a time where I fear also that the government will take more and more power for our 'safety'. We set the standard for accepting that after 9/11. We need to unset it.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

It sounds like a very interesting film, though not one I feel I can watch right now....But I will keep it in mind. Thanks for the Heads-Up, Rain....

Darlene said...

Those in Syria are living proof of how a government can inflict unbelievable violence on it's own people. It is not new and has been going on since the beginning of mankind. I wish it were not so, but fear it will take a cataclysmic event to stop men from killing each other.

Annie said...

I saw that film last year and it was amazing, moved me deeply. It touched on so many things, religious conflict, forgiveness, how war hurts both the victims and the "perpetrators", how on the ground there is not much difference between victims and perpetrators. It is easy to assign blame from a distance, not so much up close and personal, which this film is. I thought the film was sensitive and nuanced, the scenes of violence never gratuitous.

I didn't think this film had much to do with conventional views of who holds power and what they do with it, or the oppression of the powerless by foreign powers. Maybe it did but it wasn't obvious to me, I thought that the film was about how real, ordinary people are pulled into and affected by mass conflicts, how the most horrendous acts of cruelty can be justified by the stupidest differences.

The final scene though gives one hope for the future. We are capable of unbelievable cruelty but we are also capable of amazing redemption.

Rain said...

I agree with you, Annie, on how you saw it. It's a very deep film on many levels. The biggest one to me is how we don't know it all and sometimes knowing it all can be very painful. The innocent suffer the most in violent times.