It was a Friday night, I was pretty confused about how to spend the time after dinner. Whether to study or to watch a movie. I chose to do the latter, and this time I watched a French movie- Monsieur Lazhar. This is the first movie, I saw without seeing any reviews or having any expectations from IMDb. To my surprise, the movie turned out to be a brilliant and beautiful. The movie went beyond just being a film, it touches upon the concept of exposure of adult world and its issues to the naïve child’s world.
The premise of the movie is a school teacher commits suicide in a classroom, and subsequent spread of the shocking news among children, and the effect of the news on the perception of a children. Moreover, a new teacher who has fled his native country Algeria fills up the empty spot created in school. The new teacher Bashir Lazhar concerts different ways to defuse the tension created by the horrendous events, is how the film plays out itself. The pacing of the film is quite good, no scene is extended unnecessarily to showcase the tension, but the director chooses indirect ways to show the tension in school. Moreover as the movie ended, it left a lasting impact on me, and it made me tear-eyed. Bashir Tazhar is a beautiful yet tragic character facing his own demons and a troubling past. His wife and daughter are supposedly killed in an accident/murder when their apartment burns down, and so as to ensure safe passage, Lazhar flees Algeria for France. The overall theme of the film is interesting, and deals with how a child perceives the problems of the adult world, and also of whether it is healthy to expose the child to a different adult world.
This film indeed has beautiful quotes!
Suicide and Death are in turn a complex issues, and it is extremely difficult concepts for a child to understand. Children are usually raised in a peaceful and friendly environments, where violence is completely absent, good always wins over evil, there are closures to each tale they listen to and there is an absolute scale of right and wrong. This is rarely the case, adult world is filled with violence, no absolute scale of right and wrong, but rather a grayish notion of what things are right and wrong, and most importantly with NO PROPER CLOSURES and meaning to events that happen in real time. Lazhar tries to discuss the suicide openly with children, so that answers could be given to child’s innocent questions about the complexity of the problem, but he is heckled and brushed off by the school administration. He too faces racial discrimination as he is from a different place. A scene where a little girl Alice reads out an essay, which she has written about her deceased teacher is chilling and it rather highlights an important point. Children have the ability to correctly judge the adult world, but the question of whether they could handle pressure of the complex adult world is also important. That’s exactly what the film deals with. Moreover, answering difficult questions asked by children about the intricacy of the adult world is also necessary, and well there are no easy answers, yet there are right and wrong answers. The feelings of grief and guilt are also foreign for the naïve children, and these concepts are dealt with in specific scenes. The poetic metaphor of the last scene is heart wrenching and beautiful. Monsieur Lazhar narrates a fable he has written. A Chrysalis is hanging from a trees’ branch, and the tree takes necessary precautions so that no harm would come to it. But a fire ravages the forest and burns the tree, the tree survives the fire, but it couldn’t save the chrysalis from death. The tree questions its own actions and feels guilty of overprotecting and pampering the chrysalis, and thinks that it would have being better if he had freed it and let the butterfly explore her way through all the dangers the jungle posed.
It completely depends upon us how we want a child growing up!
It is completely up to us, whether we want to continuously protect the young and naïve chrysalis to a point of handicap, or to let it go, and make it competent enough by answering the difficult questions it poses.