What with the Oscars and all, you might be in a cinematic frame of mind today. So I thought I'd share a movie I saw over the weekend that really touched my heart. It's a 2006 release called BLOOD DIAMOND. It's a complicated film set in war torn Sierra Leone. The cinematography is alternately horrifying and breathtaking.
If you think you might want to see it, you may want to stop reading here because I'd hate to spoil it for you.
But the moment in the film that earns it a place in my heart happens toward the end. Solomon Vandy has walked through hell trying to reclaim his young son, who was taken by the rebels, brainwashed and forced to kill not only government troups, but anyone who crossed their path. (The sight of children using AK-47s is more than disturbing) The boy has chosen a new name for himself, See Me No More. He points his gun at his father, ready to pull the trigger.
Very calmly, with naked love blazing on his face, Solomon Vandy tells his son his name is Dia Vandy and he is a good boy. He was made to do terrible things, but he is not bad inside. He is good. And his mother loves him. His sister waits for him. He has a father who loves him. Solomon will take him home and Dia will be his son once more.
I didn't think anything could reclaim this child, but against unconditional love, nothing can stand. That kind of doubled-down, no-holds-barred, I-love-you-no-matter-what commitment is life-altering. Dare I say it? Redemptive.
And it reminds me that the love I write about should be life-altering too. In Vexing the Viscount, each of my chapters is prefaced by a pithy little quote from a French courtesan's memoirs. Along with several naughty little observations about love, she also offers this insight:
The moment when lovers step back and say, 'I know you and I won't turn away,' is the moment real lovemaking begins.
Romance is about giving and receiving love. It's what we all hope for, and what gives us hope. But love that isn't dependent upon being returned and will dare anything for the loved one is transformative. Unconditional love is the most powerful force on earth.
BLOOD DIAMOND reminded me of that. Have you ever seen a movie or read a book with themes so compelling you thought about it for days afterward? Please share.
'I know you and I won't turn away' - I love that. It also reminds me of and makes me want to run right back to my boyfriend, whom I spent the weekend with but will not see for the rest of the week... Gotta call him tonight :).
The last book I read, Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas, stayed with me a while; it was not only a terrifically fast read but also quite poignant, mainly because the heroine had a lot of trouble seeing herself as a person worthy of love. It made me sad - she missed out on so much for so long!
I'm not recalling the exact titles right now, but I seem to be almost haunted by some of the autobiographies I've read by woman of the WW2 European era. These were books I read 10 and 20 or 30 years ago, so powerful, to hear their stories and struggles. I think it's time for me to search these out again, thanks!
Nynke--I adore everything Sherry Thomas writes! Her unique insights and fresh expression really touches my heart. In her DELICIOUS, the hero remembers the last thing his mother did before she dropped him off and left him forever was give him a boiled treat. The sweetness was "like sucking on God's thumb."
Tell your boyfriend I said hi!
Mattenylou--I wish the historical market would support post 1900 set books. WWII is a fascinating period, a worthy backdrop for love stories that really mean something.
I have seen this film (movie), and loved it.
The movie that changed my life was Nurse Edith Cavell, I knew I wanted to become a nurse after seeing that.
Hotel Rwanda is a film that makes my skin tingle. If you haven't seen it, here is a trailer link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYwuXvA589A
Glynis--Cool that a movie shaped your career choice. I haven't seen Hotel Rwanda. I suspect, like Blood Diamond, parts of it are hard watching.
THE PAWNBROKER starring Rod Steiger came out in 1964. It is a black and white film which made it all the more striking. The pawnbroker is a Nazi concentration camp survivor who lost his entire family in the camps. Most of the movie is flashbacks to what happened to him and them during that time period. I was working at a resort in Lake Placid, NY that summer. Most of the patrons were jewish and many of the staff and guests attended the movie together. I think that made the impact so much greater. Several of the guests were camp survivors and the movie greatly upset them. One poor woman just kept saying "Why do they have to bring that all up again?"One of them actually died of a heart attack that night. I'm am certainly not as innocent as I was then as a college student, but it is still hard to understand the rationale behind that way of thinking. It is a deeply moving and disturbing movie.
I googled the movie to get dates, etc. I never realized until tonight that Steiger was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance and the movie/actors/etc won 5 other awards and were nominated for another 7. I always thought it was just some small movie that affected me greatly.
Pat--In 1964, it hadn't even been a generation since the Holocaust. Now, they make movies about murders and crimes practically before the blood's stopped dripping (The Natale Holloway story for example). There used to be a bit more sensitivity about the living survivors who might be impacted by such things.
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