Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Living a Good Life, Part I: "After the Wedding," an excellent film by Suzanne Bier

This week I find myself returning again and again to a film we saw this weekend, "After the Wedding" It was up for an Oscar for best foreign-language film this year, and certainly it is thought-provoking and well done. The story concerns a Danish do-gooder who is spending his life in India, running an orphanage, but who is lured back to Denmark in order to lobby for funding from a Danish industrialist. He finds himself plunged into another world when the industrialist--seemingly on the spur of the moment--invites him to attend the wedding of the man's daughter that weekend. It turns out that their lives are inter-twined, etc., etc.

Lots of secrets here, lots of hidden motivations and agendas. Most of all, though, it is an exploration of what a good life is--not the good life, but a life lived with respect toward others. It's not easy, the road to salvation (if there is such a thing) is exceedingly tortuous, how people in the developed world should behave toward those in the undeveloped world is not clear... And yet we all have to make moral decisions every day of our lives, even when we are not aware that we are doing this.

In mid-October I'm supposed to meet with Marc Côté of Cormorant Books
to discuss my novel The Violets of Usambara which he will publish next spring. Moral questions like those raised in "After the Wedding" underly my story about a Canadian politician who goes missing in Burundi in 1997, so seeing the movie was particularly appropriate. My hat is off to Suzanne Bier, who explores them so well in this film.

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