Saturday, October 05, 2013

Hearts and minds

When I first saw a picture from Marwencol I was so struck by it that I used it in a post. Incredibly, despite the attention it received and the awards it garnered, it never seemed to be available to rent or buy and it took almost three years since that post before it was available to download via Apple TV. We watched it last night and it was just as amazing as I had expected: a deeply personal and moving documentary about how someone recovering from severe brain injuries after a beating outside a pub creates his own little world based on 1940s Belgium, populates it with dolls and takes wonderful, naturalistic photographs of hundreds of little storylines he enacts with them., often apparently as a way of sublimating his feelings of anger, despair or lack of control. There is no ironic distance in his photographs: he is part of the world he has created and it is part of his. As a result the photographs he takes are like nothing else you've ever seen and a slightly sad story becomes meaningful and even beautiful.  Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

In paradisum

It's a truism I'm sure, but since having a baby and because my child is a boy, I have become much more sensitive to depictions of terrible things happening to boys - so much so that, although I used to love horror movies, D and I couldn't bring ourselves to watch the whole of the recent horror movie Sinister (and not, or not just, because Ethan Hawke's character is profoundly dislikeable), nor the documentary Paradise Lost (about a terrible miscarriage of justice following child murders in West Memphis), just because children were depicted as being hurt (in the latter case, of course, they actually were hurt). My sister had mentioned this in respect of her two boys and I think I was sceptical; no more though, and I am officially a marshmallow when it comes to this kind of pain.

This weakness, if that is what it is, also holds true when it comes to things of beauty, and the sound of the voices of boy choristers now not only brings intimations of my childhood, and the forever lovely memory of my mum in the kitchen making mince pies on Christmas Eve with the pristine sweet sound of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the radio: it also makes me think of the innocence of my beautiful boy. This movement from Fauré's Requiem is so pure it brings tears to the eyes.