Here’s a first. I’ve chosen a French poem for this week. Enjoy!
A ma mère
by Jacques Roland
La tristesse donne un air sombre et sévère au visage de maman dont le regard semble traverser toute chose, percevoir dans le lointain quelque vérité terrible et muette qui captive son âme.
Quelle pudeur absurde me retient de serrer contre moi son corps de petit oiseau amaigri, outragé par le travail du temps?
Il n’y a pas une parcelle de moi-même, une once de ma chair ou de mon sang qui ne refusent de voir impuissant s’évaporer avec son corps, l’âme de maman.
Son âme… apeurée par les affres de l’oubli, la perte des souvenirs, l’incompréhension du monde, s’est réfugiée dans la tristesse désabusée de son sourire ; tristesse fugitive qu’un revers bref de la main repousse plus loin, pour ne pas inquiéter, pour protéger le plus longtemps possible ceux qu’elle aime.
Pauvre maman Jeanne, la vague géante de ton amour viendra s’échouer un jour à mes pieds. Alors toute l’écume de ta vie roulera sur la mienne.
1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.
2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.
My old employer, DDB has an office in China. Last month I showed my students a couple of their commercials. I just discovered this one. It’s thought provoking for this culture, where mothers tend to view their children critically so they have room to improve. DDB wondered whether they could change this behavior with an ad.
It’s gotten 40 million views and counting in China.
I found this moving, but also wondered about making women feel guilty while televised. I suppose if they felt willing to criticize their kids in front of a camera, they perhaps opened themselves up to this, but then again they were following a cultural norm.
My guess is Ozu can’t make a bad film. Though I’ve only seen a handful, from what I’ve read and seen, I think it’s impossible.
The Only Son (1936) tells the story of a poor boy who’s widowed mother doesn’t have enough money to send him to middle school. Only 9 boys in the class are planning to go. When the boy’s teacher obliquely urges her to see that her gifted son goes on to school, she finds a way to do so.
The film then jumps ahead to the boy’s adulthood. After college, he’s living in Tokyo. His mother surprises him with a visit and he surprises her with a wife and baby he never mentioned. In Japan this is quite a disgrace. Why wouldn’t you tell your mother you’d married? It makes her look like a bad mother. (And in the US it’s also not done.) She accepts her new daughter-in-law and dotes on her grandson.
Though he tries to hide it, his life has not worked out. He lives on the outskirts of pre-WWII Tokyo in a desolate area beside a factory. He’s scraping by teaching math classes at night. He can’t get a good job and has to ask his boss for an advance so he’ll have money to make sure his mother has a good trip.
What was all her deprivation for? Her son’s not even happy. The promise that education will lead to a good job, to security or prosperity, has not proven true. She brings this up to her son as they sit in a field of dried grass. He’s frustrated by the situation himself. He can’t and doesn’t argue with her. He has little hope and little motivation to succeed.
Yet a heroic act for a neighbor shows the mother that all isn’t lost and that her son, while he may never be rich, has a stellar character.
The film is stark and beautiful. The environment captures the characters’ plights. While the ending isn’t one you’d find in a fairytale, it’s authentic and powerful.