by Chara Kitsaki
“But the children knew,
as I’m sure you know,
that the worst surroundings
in the world can be
tolerated if the people
in them are interesting and kind”
Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning
Following the madness of the past couple of days, I could not think of anything appropriate to post. I did not want to entertain myself, or anyone else for that matter, with the idea that the world and the city we occupied a couple of days ago has remained the same. Because it has not. For better or worse, things have changed. It was cloudy and gloomy the past days here in London. As if the sky has dressed itself in dark to mourn for lives lost and scarred in the Westminster attack. People seemed more solemn then usual, their eyes darting from left to right trying to understand, interpret and explain what has happened. Through harsh and violent means, we came to realise that we are not as infallible as we had thought to be and as Ernest Hemingway writes in ‘A Farewell to Arms’ that the world breaks even the strongest of us. Yet, we moved on. Londoner’s went to work, walked bridges, took busses and the tube. In solidarity, they united under adversity and showed that it would take a lot more to divide a country and its people.
What about children? What did they think about everything that happened around them?
I’ve officially been an adult for almost 2 years and I’m only now starting to realise that turning of age is a lot more than cooking for yourself and doing your own laundry. If you ask my opinion, no one should hide the truth from children. Working with younger ages and having to face some troubling circumstances as a child myself, I understand and know how hard it is. It takes a lot of courage to reveal how the world really is and how absurdly it functions to the most vulnerable of its citizens. Because no matter how old they get, how old we get, no matter if they are only 1 and can barely eat on their own, or four and know the alphabet by heart, we want to shelter and protect them. We want to shield them form cruelty, from the wicked witches of our times that no longer wear a pointy hat and hold a wand, but rule countries or hold a gun. We want to keep their beautiful worlds intact, partially because the magic they store there is irreplaceable and mostly, because we wish we had retained some of it for our so-called ‘adult lives’.
In the mind of the a child, things are a lot simpler. It’s not naivety nor ignorance that drives children to ignore or overlook disasters. It’s that the story of their lives is still woven with the invisible and unbreakable red thread that traditionally starts all fairy tales. They don’t see things as black and white. Through their imaginative and lively eyes, they see things in red, pink, blue, yellow and a hundred different shades of white. Mommy’s name is Mommy and Daddy’s name is Daddy. The wheels on the bus go round and round, stars twinkle and boats row gently down the stream. They smile at people on the street and get excited when an airplane flies above their heads because, according to them, that’s the closest they can get to flying. They wonder where the ‘green man’ has gone when they wait at crossings and spy with their little eyes things that begin with a, b, c and all the other letters of the alphabet. They smile, they cry, they hide, they play, they wish. They feel.
For this post, I would like to suggest to all of you to take a step back and look at things through different lenses. Take a break from trying to intellectualise the impossible. Some things cannot be explained. The world does not always make sense and no matter how many years we spend in school, university and work, we will never be able to fit the universe in the perfect square boxes we wish to. I urge you all to remember what it felt like when you were 4, 5, 10 or 11. When the world was still a place of wonder and possibilities. When ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ were not people with flaws, desires and lives of their own, but superheroes with capes, that could cure everything and anything. When everyday was a chance for a new adventure. When you looked at the world not in black and white but in red, pink, blue, yellow and a hundred different shades of white. When you smiled, cried, hid, played, wished. When you felt.
G.K. Chesterton once said “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”
Here are then, two of my favourite films from the point of view of a child or adapted from a renowned children’s book. And let us see for ourselves, how dragons can be killed…
*As always, trailers are available by clicking on the title of each movie!
*Title Quote by the incredible Dr. Seuss from “Horton Hears a Who!”
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Based on the incredibly moving and powerful story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince is a movie everyone should watch, regardless their age. It’s not simply a story of a child trying to find it’s way back home. It’s a story about life, being alive and growing up. First published in 1943, the novella is one of the most translated books in the world, found in more than 25o languages (including Greek and Bulgarian.) In something less than 150 pages, The Little Prince tells the timeless story of our society. In the words of the author himself, this is a book for children written for grown-ups and its cinematic adaptation stays true to the story while adding the context of a 21st century mechanised and dehumanised society. For those of you who do not know the story, the author and narrator, an aviator who crashes with his airplane in the middle of the Sahara desert meets a little boy, claiming to be a Prince from asteroid B-612. Through Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s wonderful descriptions, you will travel to unparalleled planets, meet a king, a conceited man, a lamplighter and a geographer, protect a sheep and tame a fox. You will learn the value of friendship, of love and the meaning of caring about something bigger or more important than yourself. Even if that is a rare and beautiful rose. The homonymous film comes as an honour to not only the book but also its readers from across the world. Bare in mind, as you visit all the different universes, that each of them can be seen as an intricate allegory of human nature. Look at their implications, look at their inhabitants and then look at the world outside your window. Unfortunately, our world has not managed to resemble that of The Little Prince’s asteroid but more a combination of all the rest. But for the time being, the book and subsequently the movie, give everyone a beautiful respite from a sometimes ugly reality. And above all, tells us that “all grown ups were children once.” Even if it’s hard for them to remember it.
This is the story of a Little Prince. And more…
Directed by: Mark Osborne
Starring Amongst Others: Marion Cotillard, Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Ricky Gervais and James Franco
I want to be justice, love and the wrath of God all in one.
This story of a childhood might be one of the best graphic novels adapted for the screen ever produced. Telling the story of Marjane, inspired by Marjane Satrapi’s real life, Persepolis is a tale of love, loss and the search for identity. Starting with the beginning of the Iranian revolution, young Maryjane is caught in the middle of what becomes one of the biggest religious unrests of her time. Through the eyes of her younger self, Satrapi presents life at Iran, adapting to a constantly changing environment and the dangers of fundamentalism. A story more prominent and current than any other time, the cinematic adaptation of Persepolis mesmerises its viewers with the faithful illustrations and dialogue. Satrapi remembers and describes the first ten years of her life in Iran and the difficult time of her adolescence away from her family in Switzerland. This clash of cultures and identities, as perceived from a young child, is an experience that everyone should see, regardless of their age. Trying to find who you are and where you belong in this world, especially in times of upheaval, immigration and xenophobia, seems to be of outmost importance. The story of Marjane, is more than the story of a child. It’s the tale of a country, the tale of a family and the tale of a world trying to respond to the changes of the Middle East. Satrapi, now living in Paris, told her autobiographical story in two graphic novels made into a wondrous animated film, presented mostly in black, white and muted colours. It’s rarely that we sit and listen to the voice of a child. It’s even rarer that we do in the midst of a tragedy. And it’s only through traumatic pictures and cries that we come to realise the real impact that war and revolution has on the most innocent members of each and every country. In Persepolis, we get the chance to finally hear that voice. We hear that voice loud and clear. We finally get the change to see first hand what the Islamic Revolution brought for the impressionable yet intelligent beyond her years Marjane.
This is the story of a childhood. And more…
Directed by: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Starring Amongst Others: Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve