Commentary on Culture | Midrash Blog

Oscar and Film

Film is absolutely one of the most popular and powerful mediums in our culture and is absolutely worthy of time and attention, of discussion and vetting.  Midrash unabashedly loves good films.  And isn’t afraid to say there exist both good movies and bad, and are glad to discuss in detail the whys of our views. Good films can be beautiful, inspiring, truthful, moving and more.  Bad films make us regret the loss of the minutes of our life spent watching it, and the collective time and money  poured into producing it.  We’ll be referencing film often in this blog, so if you like movies check here often.

The 2014 Academy Awards just came and went.  Their significance is oft and hotly debated, as is their selection and omission of the films for which these awards are granted. Criticizing winners that seem meritless (“Helium” as best short, when it was trite beyond words? C’mon!) is part of the fun.  So is airing our appreciation of a  film that received nary a nod from Oscar, but is eminently worthy of viewing and an award.   It’s our blog, so we’ll air here.  One film that regretfully received no Academy Award nominations was Asghar Farhadi'’s sophomore effort, The Past.  We’ll leave the movie reviews to the movie reviewers, but this is a terrific film and it merits your attention.   The Past explores deeply and effectively important issues of what constitutes a family, a father, and a mother; what children need in order to flourish;  and how do adults serve in these family roles and support the flourishing of their children and themselves, given the wounds of their pasts?  Can we get beyond our past to be or become something new? Is the past ever, well, past?

A poignant moment in the film is when a young Iranian boy living in a complex family situation in France, is supremely puzzled and frustrated by the whirl of emotions around him and the constant changes of people in family roles in his life.  He says to someone who asks him what’s wrong, “I want to go home.”  He doesn’t have the vocabulary or emotional depth to say all the things that he finds wrong or uncomfortable in his life, but he knows what he wants and that’s to go home, where he feels safe, and loved, and truly at home.  “At home” seems to be both a physical place, and a need residing deeply within each of us. 

In a Theology at the Bottleworks discussion on immigration a few months ago, I quoted Daniel Groody, Notre Dame scholar, who writes: The immediate reasons for the complex reality of human migration differ widely; its ultimate source, however, is the longing for a transcendent horizon of justice, freedom and peace.   Justice and peace, safety and freedom.  That sounds to me, boiled down to its essence, like a place to be “at home.”  

I love Phillip Phillips’ song “Home,” which touches on a sense of home.  Accompanied by terrific harmonies and guitar work that makes you smile, Phillips sings,

The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found.
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

There’s a message we want to hear: we are not alone, we can find home.  You and me, they and we, Immigrants and natives, children and adults,  Iranians and Frenchmen and Americans, we all long to go home, to be home, to have a home - physically, economically, emotionally, spiritually.  But we must explore and ask:  Where will we find that full-orbed sense of home?   How will we get there?