Tuesday, 9 November 2004

Last night I saw a fabulous film. In My Father's Den is based on the novel of the same name by Maurice Gee. It is beautifully shot as well as gripping and thought provoking. Often it has been said that New zeland film is "cinema of unease", that often film makers focus on the dark underbelly of apprently 'normal' and nice New Zealand. Films such as Rain and the Piano fit into this category.

After the film last night I started wondering why so many NZ films look at the dark side of life, the hidden underbelly, people's fatal flaws which wreak havoc on those around us and the stumbling and futile attempts to fix things which just makes things go more horribly wrong. Why would directors and writers focus on these themes in a country which has been relatively peaceful, has such beautiful scenery and does not seem to be characterised by the strange or the weird?

Part of it I think, is a disbelief that things can be as good as they seem. New zeland is defintely picturesque but it also has the power to make you feel miniscule, to get you lost in the bush, caught in a storm or drowned in a raging river. Also there is something about small town rural life, everyone knowing everyone else and few opportunities for those at the margins of the community which lend a sense of unease and twistedness. At first I thought Nz film maybe focussed on this aspect because happiness and beauty doesn't really make great film, however I then started to think about whether my life and the lives of those around me has a dark underbelly?

It absolutely does. There are various degress of brokeness and deception and hurt between families and friends. There are secrets and lies, some which everyone chooses to believe until something happens to make us face ourselves. I think Jesus does the same thing. He doesn't let us get away with secrets and lies and the whole reason for a relationship with him is because of the dark underbelly we all have. The wonderful thing about faith in Christ is it doesn't always have to get worse as we fumble around in the dark, holding onto our wounds. Instead there can be healing and freedom, not in some cheesy way but instead in a way which allows us to face reality and face those around us as totally human and whole.

So NZ cinema is doing us a favour. It is making us realise that we are all twisted. Unfortunately we all hide this from each other when it is the fact about humanity which could actually bring us the freedom we seek.

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