A Little Push (Written and directed by Andrés Moret Urdampilleta)
Lines (Written by Vivian Kerr; directed by Alexa Hann)
The Deaths of Lucana (Written by Fernando Karl; directed by Alceu Bett)
?Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.?
Bertolt Brecht, The Mother
Freedom from Pain
In A Little Push, a group of friends in a nursing home have made a pact. Mainly influenced by the most assertive (bullying) member of the group, they’ve made up their minds not to die in pain. They all get tattoos saying ?No Pain? and covenant together to kill whomever among them gets diagnosed with a terminal illness; the sooner after the diagnosis, the better.
Eventually the group dwindles to two women, one of whom is the domineering leader. The other is starting to have doubts about the ethical soundness of the ?pact.? But she feels guilty for wanting to break an agreement?It’s just such bad form.
For these women, death is clearly a means of breaking free from suffering, and life, by implication, is required to be free of pain. That in itself shuts the door on worlds of experience, and this appears to be the only sin that life itself won’t forgive.
From My Fingers to the Deep
Lines is a poignant imagining of the relationship of Emily and Charlotte Brontë during the time when Charlotte is finishing up the draft of Jane Eyre. For Charlotte, death means separation from those she loves. She stands metaphorically with Poe at the edge of the shore and watches helplessly as grains of sand fall slowly into the water from her hand. Her despair keeps her from seizing the day.
Talking Your Way Out of It
In The Deaths of Lucana, a poet witnesses the last days of a lovely woman confronting her imminent demise. The attitude toward death is intellectual, an opportunity for dialectic, and an attempt to use the mind to create a hedge against the existential terror encroaching on the soul. But any efforts to make sense of death look absurd, the placid intellectualizing appearing pathetic when shown up against Lucana’s desperate and terrified struggle to escape annihilation.
Are any of these ego defenses successful? Not really, at least not according to these flicks, which all suggest that we’ve arrived in the postmodern world without any advancements in our ability to cope with the reality of death. Perhaps there’s even been even an increase in our helpless floundering to avoid pain, a floundering that limits our ability to live fully.
All three of these films deliver the same diagnosis for the current malaise: fear of death is limiting our capacity to live. Facing our fear is really not that hard, and shining realms await our acceptance of our own mortality.
Scared of dying? Get over it; life is waiting.
Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.