My personal meditations/reflections on films and occasional art exhibitions.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
A SEPARATION 1/29/12
Some people wrote that Iran's repressive regime was an element in this film, but I disagree and do not believe that Iran's system of justice was depicted unfairly, and that is why it was not censored. All films made in other countries, if good give you a glimpse into their culture. AND A Separation is a strong, wrenching film about interpersonal divisions and the way a society deals with conflict.
To quote Roger Ebert: "The movie takes place in present-day Iran, a modern nation that attempts to live under Islamic law. The film's story has no quarrel with Islam, but it demonstrates that the inflexible application of the letter of the law may frustrate the spirit of the law. This is true in all nations under all religions and all laws. Laws are an attempt to regulate hypothetical situations before they may arise. If laws were replaced by principles, they might be a better fit with human nature...
"...A Separation" provides a useful portrait of Iran today. Some inflamed American political rhetoric has portrayed it as a rogue nation eager to start nuclear war. All too many Americans, I fear, picture Iranians as camel-riding harem-keepers. Certainly some of Iran's punishments for adultery that we read about seem medieval. But this film portrays a more nuanced nation, and its decent characters are trying to do the right thing. To untangle right and wrong in this fascinating story is a moral challenge. I'd love to see the film with wise judges from American divorce courts and hear their decisions. Sometimes the law is not adequate to deal with human feelings..."
I thought it was interesting to see the way everyone was forced to compromise some principals and not others. There was a powerful ethical/religious compulsion to tell the "truth" and we are shown in the film how often a personal crisis can trump one's most devoutly held beliefs.
All societies have their economic pressures, laws and ways of meting out justice. This movie deals with a very personal story of two people who could not solve their difference in a society that also has religious and class distinctions. The husband was choosing between his father who has Alzheimer's and needs 24 hour care and his wife and daughter; the daughter was asked to choose between parents. And the married couple are both devoted to their daughter who is torn between them and basically to each other.
Questions of arrogance, pride and justice prevail in this film, where all the characters are basically decent people trying to live their lives in as uncomplicated a way as they can; and how chance occurrences can disrupt that very fabric.