What does it feel like to be caught in a quandary? Do you succumb to the inevitability of the situation and wait for the storm to pass? Or do you take the bull by the horns resolutely and find a solution? It’s an interesting conundrum and something I faced several times in 2016, more so in the second half. Two offbeat movies I watched at home over the holidays gave me two beautiful perspectives of how to deal with a problem.
On Saturday evening, I watched ‘The Band’s Visit’ directed by Eran Kolirin. It talks about eight Egyptian policemen from an orchestra travelling for a performance in an Israeli town. However, they end up being in the wrong town where they see only unfamiliar faces. A kind restaurant owner helps the band members put up for the night at her and some of her friends’ places. It was a night where not only every single member of the band but also the families they spent their time with felt out of their comfort zone. The lead of the band, Tawfiq and the youngest band member are put up with the restaurant owner, Dina. Tawfiq believes that they ended up being in the wrong place because of the young trumpeter. However, he softens his stand after a series of conversations with Dina involving life. Tawfiq saw his lost son in that young band member and was being excessively stern. A mix of the remorse he felt in his own mind as well as the kindness and empathy showed by Dina helps him alter his outlook of the whole situation. Then there is the assistant lead in the band who had been, in the past, working on writing a concerto but was unable to finish it due to a lot of commitments. However, he is inspired by the family he spends the night with especially a toddler in whose room he is put up. The trumpeter has a chance to kindle the flames of love for a stranger who takes him on a blind date. The way he uses gestures and emotions to help the stranger express his love and feelings for his girlfriend is remarkable. All the members of the band are energized the next morning as they travel towards their actual destination where they succeed in performing the orchestra.
‘The Band’s Visit’ tells us that life often takes us through uncharted waters. Strangers can turn out to be a big help tearing down the barriers of language and culture. Kindness can be all around you. The spirit of kindness can open doors in our minds we didn’t know existed; a broadening of the horizons of behavior and understanding can be a great relief to overcome the problems at hand. The old and the young can be great lessons in the journey of life. A mix of the waiting game and the resolute bull-fight will get you to your destination. This is what ‘The Band’s Visit’ teaches us.
Impressed by the movie, I watched another offbeat drama last night – ‘Private’ directed by Saverio Costanzo. The movie is about a Palestinian family whose home is occupied by Israeli forces. Mohammed, the head of the family, wants to honor the promise he made to the forces that the family would not occupy the upper floors of the home. However, his family members are scared and wants to be aggressive in throwing the forces out. Theirs is a very peculiar situation – caught in the crossfire without any idea what to do or what not to do. Confined to their living room after sunset, the family members are driven to the point of insanity but somehow, they hold fort. One morning, they believe that the soldiers have left for good and therefore, they use the upper floors gathering their stuff. However, later that night the soldiers are back and when they find out that things in the upper floors was not how they had left them, turn livid on Mohammed. However, they are given a second chance. Mohammed’s eldest daughter overhears conversations of the soldiers and realize that they will be vacating soon. The relieved woman that she is, tries to make up with her father that night. However, to the family’s horror, they find another group of soldiers occupying their home.
While the movie leaves some questions unanswered, it speaks poignantly of the mental trauma of a war-torn land. In the midst of war, you are forced to prioritize as life becomes increasingly complex and threatened. Your blood boils seeing the sight of enemy forces but you also need to consider your survival. Mohammed is the voice of conciliation, adjustment and patience that is so required when you are facing your biggest problem. There is always the opposing thought, but throwing caution to the wind may not be a very good idea. You have to bide your time until the problem solves itself or until a new problem comes your way. Life will always throw stones or hurl thorns at you. It is the way you deal with that determines your survival. I really like the interpretation that Mohammed and his family represent opposing thoughts in our own mind. Here, it’s the waiting game that the family chooses to play, but the fact that they are confronted with a fresh set of problem towards the end speaks of the way life is.
It was inspirational watching the two movies this weekend. It gives me optimism for 2017. I do hope my mind has the strength and patience to play the waiting game while pouncing on the opportunities that come my way.