Friday, December 12, 2008

Movies, History, and Babbling

In seven days, I will be on a plane to Chicago to see my husband.

It was a very gleeful day for me today, given that notion. I had a little extra spring in my step and I felt like smiling. It's been miserably cold and rainy, and I've been working 10, 11, and 12 hour days lately, but perhaps the stars finally aligned themselves. Everything just seemed a little brighter today than it has been lately, and I was productive and at least fairly pleased with my progress at work today. And despite still missing Naveen and our Chicago apartment with our cat and our collections and comforts, I managed to feel a sense of completeness today, which isn't typical while I've been alone out here. So, all in all, a great day.

Funny then, that I should choose to see The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, which was playing at the Cranford theater. I have been wanting to see it, but I knew it was a serious drama of a German child's perspective of the Holocaust as he knew it - the inquisitive eight-year-old son of a power-driven Hitler loyalist soldier. It is a brilliantly sad story of innocence meeting the vile and atrocious, with a grisly ending painfully forseeable by those of us who still acknowledge the vicious truth that the Holocaust did in fact actually happen. This, Life Is Beautiful, and Schindler's List are each commendable films that teach and appeal through an empathetic recognition of the humanity behind these characters on screen.

I was overwhelmed - overcome and saddened at the end of course - but I was surprised by how much this movie took me back to my childhood and all the various things I thought were important then. Even during a scene when the boy is running through the woods to meet his strange friend at the concentration camp, he is wistfully sailing his arms like an airplane, eager to enjoy each second and make his own small discoveries. It made me remember a time when I used to explore a ravine behind my neighbor's yard and wonder if any other person had ever seen what I saw there, or laid hands on the land or the trees or ground before me. Of course with age comes the assumption that no, I am not the first person to venture here. But hopefully there is the wisdom to remind me that while I might not have been the first, it may have been original to me and therefore an important experience nonetheless. I don't know why I always look for such importance in things. But I know I'm not the only one, because I connected with the child on the screen. A good storyteller opens doors to relate to people and attempt to provide the audience the chance to empathize with the characters. Some people learned history through books in classrooms, but I never fared well with the subject. Films have taught me better because I get a chance to personalize the situation, which I retain much more dependably than names and dates in text. History is such an important subject, and should really be taught better somehow. Understandably not all films are historically accurate, but I am thankful for the ones that are. As for those people who just don't believe the Holocaust ever happened, I doubt film would help them much, but I should only hope it would open their hearts a little.

What can I say. I am an animator on a children's television show about muppets and fairies and magic, and yet I am drawn to non-fiction. I wanted to spend my Friday evening watching a story about a Nazi soldier who is too blind by his own hostile authority while his son's open eyes lands him into grave danger.

Maybe I'm seeking balance and reality. And babbling about it.

Meanwhile I'm approaching my third month happily working my dream job in New Jersey, still missing my husband, our cat, and our Chicago apartment. I'm so looking forward to going home, and so thankful for what I have to go home to.

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