A Preoccupation With Grief and Loss, as Portrayed in Five Recent Indie Films
?No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.?
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I’ve noticed that death has been the subject of a lot of recent indie shorts. It’s a fit subject for shorts because It’s rather an urgent matter, and for some reason you don’t need a lot of time to make a point about it.
My last piece in this column was about films dealing with death itself. Recently I’ve seen several new short films that explore what It’s like to lose someone you love.
In The Way the World Ends, a man and his wife awaken to discover that the world has ended. The sun has disappeared and the sky has become one solid sheet of light grey??Like the skin of a dolphin,? the wife murmurs. Amazingly, though, everything else goes on just as before. The couple is astonished to see the postman walk by and wave. The husband eventually heads to work, where he’s surprised to see everything going on as normal; except that his coworkers are a little puzzled to see him there.
In LaRonde we see a girl trying to leave the hometown where her dad committed suicide. But little things keep happening to slow her down. At first It’s assumed that She’s leaving to try to forget her dad and the pain that accompanied his demise, but eventually we see her attempted escape as not a running from the memory of her dad’s death but an attempt to get to the place where his spirit may have ended up.
In Morning After Midnight, a couple who’ve lost their baby are wrestling with the fact that the mother’s existence while the baby was alive had been a kind of living death because of the postpartum depression she’d been experiencing. As painful as was the loss of her baby, the tragedy was that even while the baby was alive, he brought her no joy.
Two sisters go to visit their mom on her birthday in Birthday Girls, and here we see the blessed reality in those shaky days after a demise, a time when the dead always have things to teach us, lessons that can facilitate the healing process once we consent to let go.
?Blessed are those who mourn,? Jesus said, and for centuries science and letters have provided generous support for this profound teaching. But abandonment of self?whether by succumbing to addictive behaviours or by choosing to become a kind of living shrine to the lost loved one?is not a good idea.
In Soul, a man allows his daughter to be put into a temporary death state in order to bring back some kind of word from his adored wife. It’s a beautiful experience for the daughter, flooded with joy at seeing her mother in the afterlife. But here’s the rub: to give your life over to the mourning of lost ones is to make gods of them, granting them a power over you to which they have no right?and which they might just abuse.
Losing someone we love compels us to either abandon ourselves or to truly find ourselves and come into our own. It all depends on which bait we grab.