Friday, August 22, 2008


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!


molytail said...

I went googling for The Kite Runners first and wow...I read the wikipedia articles on both the film and the book...

The Afghan government has banned the film from movie theaters and DVD shops because of the rape scene and the ethnic tensions that the film highlights.

Another China connection for you - according to the article on the film, parts of it were actually filmed in Kashgar, China, because of it being dangerous to film in Afghanistan....

molytail said...

(oh, my 'wow' was meant as in - it sounds like a very thought provoking movie...not wow for the afghan government banning it - that wasn't a surprise)

molytail said...

Runner. An S sssssnuck in there. *grin*

Ganeida said...

Moly, the Kite Runner was extremely thought provoking & I can see why it got banned in Afghanistan. For Lidy, who doesn't pay all that much attention to the news, it was eyeopening. She simply hadn't realised how awful the Taliban was. At her age it is a good thing to be aware of the Grace of God to be Australian & female rather than Afghani & female & to appreciate the freedoms we have, the right to schooling & worship, to be free from invasion & war & religious intolerance.

molytail said...

At her age it is a good thing to be aware of the Grace of God to be Australian & female rather than Afghani & female & to appreciate the freedoms we have, the right to schooling & worship, to be free from invasion & war & religious intolerance.

Yep ... that actually relates to some convos that Cindy and I have been having lately...discussions about being thankful for what she *has* and how *much* we really have if we looked beyond our little piece of the world here....

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Have read The Kite Runner, but not seen the movie. I almost left you a Swedish film (yes; with subtitles) named As it is in Heaven, which Ditz might have enjoyed as it involved conducting, violin-playing and singing. I liked it but not overly much -- still think the best Swedish movie I've seen is My life as a dog.

If you get the chance, see My father's castle and My mother's house (I think; both 80's movies and the titles are a bit blurry now): French, with subtitles. Georgeous scenery and gentle plots.


Ganeida said...

Yikes! My life as a Dog I *thought* was a children's film & left the boys to watch before church one Sunday morning!!! Never Again!

What was the book of the Kite Runner like?

Anonymous said...

Hate to think what they made of it (g).

The Kite Runner is good - harrowing and a useful insight into an area that's given a lot of publicity but little thoughtful social commentary in the form of literature, plays etc. (or maybe I simply don't get out enough). It's much better than Reading Lolita in Tehran, which is about a university lecturer who set up a reading group for some of her Muslim ex-students, reading Western lierature. Should have been fascinating but read like a literary thesis.