Liddy has her *weekend* Friday/Saturday ~ which is throwing my life in to even more disorder because she likes to share her weekend & do you think I can convince Ditz that if she has Friday off she should work on Sunday? Buckley's!
What Liddy likes to do on a day off is head to the movies, something I usually need to be in the right mood to do with Liddy because she likes light romantic comedy & a little of that lasts me a long, long time. What I tend to like are things that come with sub~titles. I have never understood why people won't watch a good movie just because they have to read the dialogue though my children have groaned & moaned & complained for 20 years over my predilection for movies you have to read!
So I was more than a little surprised when Liddy suggested this movie: Children of the Silk Road. No, it's not all in sub~titles but a good bit of it is. It was also a movie I had planned on taking Ditz to to reinforce what we've been studying about China. NOT recommended for children by me. Ditz grew up on dead bodies thanks to my love of archaeology so does well with the violence & the one love scene Liddy & I both said at once, 'Shut your eyes, Ditz', & Ditz being a good girl obediently shut her eyes. I must also say Ditz did not want to see this movie. Most emphatically not. She, apparently, does not like China. She did not want to learn any more about China. She is tired of China. She is also a very visual learner so she got dragged along willy~nilly.
Now this movie opens in 1937 so what is happening in China then is the Japanese invasion. War. Violence. Despite the reviews I thought this was pretty well done. As an educator it raised points for discussion: the opium wars, why the West was in China, the seeds of WWII, the National Guard & the communist troops, the depression in other parts of the world ~ lots & lots of things that a well educated person should at least have a nodding acquaintance with. Liddy, who did some in depth study on China her last year, was making connections & actually quite interested. Ditz yawned. I so love educating Ditz.
Because I can be quite obsessive about history I came home & did some research & found this movie takes some rather large historical liberties: Hogg was not alone, this was not his idea, people changed nationalities & others simply disappeared from the script. Fair enough from the point of tight story~telling but it is hardly accurate.
However, Liddy & I both really enjoyed this movie. The scenery as the children trekked over the Liu Pan Shan mountains was spectacular! Here are the bits of the Great Wall you don't normally see: lone watch towers on the edge of the Gobi Desert, the wall itself long lost in the raging sand storms, the moguls, for whom the wall was originally built to keep at bay, the mountains lashed by snow. Ditz yawned some more.
OK, lots of the movie was predictable. Those of us, including my children, who have seen Inn of the Sixth Happiness invariably drew comparisons. Hogg's death from lockjaw was inevitable. Some of it is laughable but in the end what is the test of a good movie for me is how much of it remains after the lights go up & whether anything niggles & bothers at me then. And yes, Children of the Silk Road passes both those tests. The *taste* of this movie lingers. At one point Hogg is jailed & the communists are angling to take his boys as soldiers. Hogg is released thanks to the intervention of his friend & business partner, a lady of trade & dealer in opium. He never knows the price she paid for his freedom but which is greater love? To leave a friend to rot in jail & the lives he is responsible for saving to perish because of it or to sleep with the enemy to secure his freedom? Hmm.
If we asked Ditz, & we didn't, I'm pretty sure she'd say the ham & cheese croissants, the slush puppies & Turkish delight we took into the movie with us was the best part of her day. Food is food. A really good movie is a rarity.
And I've had 2 in 2 days. Liddy, who went to the mainland on Thursday, brought home the Kite Runner. This is another sub~titled movie & definitely NOT a children's movie though Ditz was allowed to watch the beginning showing the kites fighting & the making of the cutting string as she had read about it in one of her Sonlight books. Both Liddy & I found this completely harrowing though it really brought home for Liddy the tradgedy that is Afghanistan & the horrors of the Taliban. We are planning to rewatch it when we have recovered from our first viewing because, again, there is so much to be learned culturally from watching it. Now I know I could go & get a good travel movie that even Ditz could watch but what I have found over years of watching foreign movies is how much of the cultural sub~text disappears in things like travelogues. When you get a movie made by the people who live in a country you get so much by default simply because it is part of their thinking, their culture, & that is always enlightening. It explains better than any lecture how & why a people think the way they do. That is far more important to me than simply knowing about a country. I do so like to understand.
To my utter surprise, as Liddy drove us in to Capalaba for some shopping (which I shall discuss in a separate post) Liddy confessed it had been a while since she had enjoyed a movie so much. I was discretely silent, waiting. Yes, she continued, there was so much more depth & though the Kite Runner had upset her she had got so much out of it she couldn't believe she'd nearly not bought it because of the sub~titles. I smirked. Seems like I may have corrupted my children after all! I have promised her Babette's Feast (that movie is sooo strange but an absolute joy!) & the Red Shoes (though I may have that title wrong). Both of those should give her plenty of room for thought & like others I particularly like are visually stunning ~ which is probably why the Kite Runner & Children of the Silk Road appeal so much; they are very strong visually & so visually stimulating they compensate for their flaws.
Conversation in this house is ongoing. Both Liddy & Ditz will continue to come back to discuss aspects of these movies over & over as they process new information & line it up with what they already knew ~ or thought they knew! And isn't this the essence of Homeschooling? I love that the kids will ask questions & really think about what they've seen ~ even Ditz. She won't say much but her ears will be flapping in the wind as Liddy & I do the talking & she will draw her own conclusions. Despite her utmost resistance she has no choice but to learn!