Sammy the Seal

Children, death, and beautiful endings

In celluloid on Sunday, 12 April, 2009 at 19:20

While trying to ignore the sting of reality/unemployment/hopelessness this morning (it took me over an hour to get out of bed, and that was just to let the cat out, it was probably two hours total), I listened to some music and came upon the soundtrack for the Swedish/Russian film Lilja 4-ever, which our class saw in the theater in Stockholm in spring 2003. I’ve only seen it that once, mainly because it’s hard to watch it more than once.  The soundtrack is mostly techno and dance, which I actively dislike, but because of the film, it was okay for me to buy the soundtrack. Why not buy it in a country where it’s readily available, instead of waiting back home where it will be much more difficult and expensive to locate? Honestly, there are only a handful of tracks I can say I actively like, but, as good filmmaking does, the music was made organic to and inseparable from the film. (See: “Just Like Honey”, Lost in Translation.) If I am moved by any of these songs, it is because of their context, even after six years and only one viewing.

Anyway, the point is that it reminded me of the film, specifically the ending of film, more specifically the last 90 seconds, and even more specifically the last 35 seconds. On the 0.00001% chance someone ends up seeing this film, I won’t give out any details. However, the staggering, heart-wrenching beauty of those final seconds was so singular, it reminded me of the last time I had the same exact experience, that of Pan’s Labyrinth. Plot and detail aside, it follows a very similar route to Lilja in the way it presents the characters and they arrive at the end. And, of course, it is the very final scenes and images that, both times I saw it, moved me more than anything I’ve seen recently. (The only other thing I can think of that I was moved by by a film I saw in the theater was in Persepolis, when little Marjane and her uncle are talking for what they realize will be the last time.) What’s interesting to me is how both films arrive at the same kind of beauty, and yet the contrasts are obvious. I wish I could spill details, but I can’t. By intent, of course, you can glean some of what I’m talking about by the title of the post. But you could also just watch both.

Caveat though: if you do, though, make sure that you have a strong heart, and failing that, that the sun is shining outside, you have something to look forward to that day or the next, or you have someone to hug or talk with afterwards. See? I have nothing against dramatic film 🙂

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