Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 286: 'Le Havre' - The Poetry in Poverty?

Le Havre (film)
Le Havre (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I watched a French movie called 'Le Havre', in Italian was translated in 'The Miracle in le Havre' -because we are Catholics and Miracles sell.

For those that don't know, Le Havre is the first container port of France and the one with the best connection to the rest of Europe.

The movie depicts an African boy arriving by cargo ship in Le Havre and an aging shoe shiner that takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home. Of course he has the mandatory sick wife that due to his good deed, is healed at the end and they return even happier to their modest home with a window looking out on a brick wall. Violins playing. Credits rolling.

The movie must have struck some chords, it's one of those 'indipendent' movies that show the Poetry in Poverty - how all the Poor are better and nicer and truly kind while the Rich are the real poor (in spirit) as a very familiar theme in our screenplays and literature, the underdogs good heart (please watch The Millionaire for a return to reality of the 'underdog world' - enough to say my mum did not want to watch it - too much Reality!!!!) and appreciation for the simple things of life, a modest home and life, true love, a dog and no desires, it ranked up 15 wins and 19 nominations.

I found the movie offensive.

Firstly because it did not depict Le Havre for what it is, which is France entrance point for poor migrants coming in from the sea, the equivalent to Italian Lampedusa, many are not aware of the boats that did not make it there, little wooden boats that tried to cross the divide into Europe and did not make it. 
At the assignment speech of our new Chamber of deputies President, Laura Boldrini, a lady who used to work for UN, she said 'Let's remember all the nameless people buried at sea that lost their life while trying to get into Europe hoping for a better, fairer life". Yes, lets.

Le Havre is in every respect France's Lampedusa.

In the movie, at the beginning, a cargo container is opened up at the arrival, the container was full of black people who were alive, with neat clean clothes and a very dignified demeanor. No one jumped back from the stench that you would certainly find in a container where people have been locked for days without a toilet, and mostly, if you found 2 alive on the whole bunch THAT would be a Miracle.

We have been hearing about cargo containers loaded with people who did not make it, they come from as far as China, which makes it a 3 weeks to a month sea trip, what a fucking surprise, does anyone know how a cargo container is transported across the sea, out in the open exposed to weather excursions, completely sealed and how many chances the people who embark on such a trip have? Are we brain damaged that we can watch such a movie without questioning how is it possible that people who must have boarded on the north African coasts and would take from 6 to 10 days to get to France in a sealed container, got off looking that good, untraumatized, all alive, smelling like roses and with space to spare - why are we led to believe that it was a cruise they boarded -just without windows and ballroom?

Because we like to see Poetry in Poverty, there is in fact, Poetry is contained within the word Poverty, this is why since I was a kid I watched 'x' number of movies with the same theme, the ones that broke the mold were called 'neorealism', Neo because it was New, it was a novel idea to depict Reality for what it was, because honestly, who doesn't have enough of it already, we pay for a distraction, I did myself when I used to only choose 'feel good movies'. 
And when neorealism came, with movies such as "Bicycle Thief", I could not watch them, as they showed the Truth of Poverty, the poor man to whom someone stole a bicycle he needed to work and then he tries to steal one himself but he is caught and beaten and shamed in front of his son.

This was the reality of poverty, shame, humiliation, hunger, homelessness - neorealism had a short life span.

The truth is that there is no Poetry in Poverty, none, zero, nil, watching people die of starvation is not poetic, watching people sell out their kids to prostitution or pedophiles for money is not romantic, there isn't more goodness in poor people when their survival is at stake, this is why crimes are rife among the Poor, they don't have time or a choice for the Poetry in Poverty, they have to find ways to survive and make it to the next day. And severely sick poor people usually die, no matter how many good deeds they do, simply because they don't have access to the best health care that costs Money and now is sold for a Profit and is not a Human Right, so why do we keep the lies up about reality, why don't we say 'reality sucks for most' and then do something together to change it?

Next time we are tempted to support the crappy poetic movies about Poverty we should just remember they are lying to us, poverty is a crime against life, there is nothing poetic in the goodness of the people of Le Havre as they depict them allowing a boy to stay while they deport all the rest, nor it's assured that anyone would hide him, host him and feed him, some could call the police, have him put in one of the internment camps where they should relegate the migrants who come in without a permit, we have some in Italy as well, things we do not talk about because we are ashamed of what we do, and yet, we do it.

Why not stopping Poverty for good vs making a poetic version of it we can live with?

Investigate Equal Money, there is Poetry in a vision that includes all living beings, because Poetry is always inclusive, excluding something or someone, leaving someone out or behind is not poetic, never. It's just Evil.

This is why Poetry lacks the V, for Victory, as when there are winners there must be losers and when there are losers we all in fact lose out on the chance to bring Heaven to Earth for All and as the poetry takes up its 'V' we become All poorer for it.

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  1. The film is actually Finnish, although I'm not sure if there's some French funding or producing involved. The director is Finland's leading art movie director with a fascination for everything "bohemian". I haven't seen this film but some of his older films, and they are thoroughly based on poesy.

  2. Thanks Emmi! It is French funded as well but cool to know where it originated. We have a director like him, we had a few in fact, I heard he made a movie, 'Cuore Sacro' about a woman going through a 'spiritual' crisis as she questions the divide between rich and poor. Of course no solution, it just managed to make the Church look bad and received very poor reviews. His name is Ozpetek he is Turkish/Italian, many of his movies have touched over the Gay problem - still being a problem in Italy apparently and he has the poetic slant with a bit of realism -not too much-. Still, our fascination with looking at poverty through Poetry is weird and questionable and it would be cool if we stopped and looked at reality for what it is, so we can face the problems we have and change.