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Three Uncommon Films


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AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
Review by Marie-Françoise Rosat

This wonderful picture, made in Sweden, tells the story of a music conductor who has a heart attack and decides to go back to the small village where he was brought up.

Since childhood, he's been looking for "the music that can open people's hearts." When he arrives in this little town, he is invited to be the conductor of a small church choir.

As soon as this charismatic man starts leading the group, all kinds of emotions, feelings and behaviors come to the surface from everybody: hate, jealousy, being a victim, envy, but also love, admiration and compassion. The choir becomes almost like a Shadow Work container, where everyone has the space to live his emotions!

When I left the cinema, I was crying tears of relief and felt more connected to life and to myself. The film's score is also beautiful.

I loved this film and have seen it twice, have recommended it to lots of people around me and all of them loved it as well. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for 2004 and was voted audience favorite at the 2005 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Marie-Françoise Rosat is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator and Coach living in Munich, Germany. Read more about Marie-Françoise. [Editor's note: The film is not yet available in the United States. Americans who use Netflix can "save" this film to their wish list and send the message that there's a market for it here.]

OFF THE MAP
Review by Alyce Barry

Many films tell the story of a protagonist who brings profound change into the lives of others. As It Is In Heaven (above) is one example. Others include Back to the Future, in which Marty McFly changes the lives of his parents, and Babe, in which a young pig uproots the long-held prejudices on a sheep farm.

It's less common that the story goes the other way, and a protagonist embraces the extraordinary lifestyle of others and the change that it brings. Off the Map is one such film.

It's a story about an eccentric family living off the land in northern New Mexico. The father (played by Sam Elliott) has been depressed for six months, the mother (Joan Allen) gardens in the nude, and their 12-year-old daughter is ready for grand larceny. Into their midst comes William Gibbs, a young, newly-hired IRS agent who's been sent to do an audit. He gets stung by a bee and falls in love, first with the nude gardener and then with the land and his own possibilities. The viewer falls in love with Gibbs as his story unfolds and his life transforms. It's a movie about people living in an entirely different way than most of us do, off the map, off the grid, and not caring how unusual it looks to others.

I REMEMBER MAMA
Review by Alyce Barry

You might think it odd that I'm recommending a film made in 1948. I only saw this film for the first time a few weeks ago.

It's one of the most skillfully crafted movies I've seen in a long time. What I love most is its title character, a woman with a very healthy, balanced Warrior. Unlike the Warrior heroines in today's movies, though, this woman doesn't have to wield a gun, much less shoot multiple rounds while falling sideways as a building explodes in the background.

This woman merely sets boundaries, in as clean and truthful a way as I've ever seen in a film. She uses both sides of her Warrior, too, going to great lengths to protect her children as well as to insist that they get what they need.

Based on a book by her daughter, the story takes place in 1910 in San Francisco, where Marta Hanson and her husband Lars, both born in Norway, are raising their four children. They are members of an extended family with old-world values, where Marta's sister must get permission from the male head of the family in order to get married and where her suitor can expect a dowry.

But it's also a family in which the parents listen to their children and take their needs seriously. Where parents and children express and speak of their feelings openly. Where the parents care a great deal about telling their children the truth and refuse to break a promise. Where the family spends the evenings listening to the classics read aloud and, at a time when every penny counts, values the experience more than money. Where the parents openly show their approval for a son who wants to attend high school and who have an initiation of sorts for a daughter who's growing up.

There are wonderfully funny moments, too, most of them thanks to an uncle who is the perfect Enneagram Eight.

Alyce Barry is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator and Coach living in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Read more about Alyce.

 

This article originally appeared in our free email newsletter in March 2006. To subscribe, visit our subscription page.

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