Children of Heaven- A must watch

October 18, 2008 at 7:34 am (Uncategorized)

Remember watching the Bicycle Thief. How the sheer helplessness of the protagonist (and his family) kept us glued to the screen. I have been trying to find another film which binds you emotionally from start to the end. I had heard only good stuff about the Indian movie, The Blue Umbrella but I was afraid it is going to be a rip-off of the bicycle thief and could never muster enough courage to give it a shot (Unfortunately, i have very low expectations from Bollywood). But when I heard about this Iranian movie, Children of Heaven, I had this urge to explore it considering the reputation Iranian filmmakers carry with them. A French connection means that unlike Bollywood most of their movies have a story to convey.

Children movies (and by which I don’t mean Disney likes) are a rarity. Maasoom and Bridge to Terabithia are two examples which stand out.I have always been at a loss to understand that with emotional bonding that can be conveyed through the story of children, why don’t we get to see more of such stories. Aamir Khan probably could understand my point and made Taare Zameen Par( which frankly wasn’t the best movie even of 2007) but that, if anything, strengthens my point. The trick to a successful movie is attachment and empathy with the main characters and the story. Granted that sometimes, we resort to cinema to take a break from the drudgeries of life, but the stories that linger on are those which we can connect with.

With a simple story which addresses a multitude of issues and a realistic background, Children of Heaven is one of the most touching stories to have been screened. Ever. It starts as a simple story of a boy who misplaces (loses) the shoes of his sister. The sister and brother Ali, knowing that their parents can’t afford a new pair of shoes plan to stay out of trouble by sharing their shoes and keeping it a secret from everyone else. Of course this lands them in trouble time and again since both of them need to be on time from their respective schools (which have complementary timings). Of course there are twists and turns for eg. the sister discovers who has her pair of shoes but finds out that her father is blind, so lets it go. And then there is the subplot where the father who is looking for a gardening job lands up at a place inhabited by a kid and his grandfather. The kid is lonely and looking for some friends and tries to find one in Ali.

The climax is in the form of a race where the third prize is a pair of sneakers (Reminded of some old Anil kapoor movie where the product of desire, a bicycle was a runners up prize in a wrestling bout). The race, which is beautifully captured on camera and orchestrated is won by Ali and he comes home dejected to his sister. Though in a scene just before that they show their father on his way home with two new pairs of shoes. However we never get to see the joyful faces of the children getting it. Instead the director gives us a gem of an ending. As Ali faces his sister empty handed (the first prize was a 2 week vacation for him), he takes off his torn shoes and we get to see his swollen feet. He places his feet in a pool of water where (with a joyous music background) the fish come and stick to his feet, signifying ( atleast in my opinion) the end of miseries for the family.

Now where do I start praising this movie. Right from the first scene, where they show the cobbler repairing the girl’s shoes, the movie grips you and never lets go of you. The small alleys of Teheran (I presume) with small puddles of water in the middle form the backdrop for the movie. But the real stars have to be the child actors. You thought Darsheel had shone in Taare Zameen Par, wait till you see the performance of this bunch. It was almost as if the movie was being filmed secretly, and the kids could bring out the entire range of emotions -the purity, the innocence, the naivety, the maturity. Every small detail fitted them to the tee. Whether it be facial expressions, body posturing or dialogue delivery. It was hard to imagine this being a scripted movie.

The longing looks of the sister/brother pair when they see a pair of shoes in a television or a window showcase conveys it all. I was particularly impressed by the scene where the girl drops the sneaker into a flowing gutter by mistake. The helplessness on her face was so evident and it made me want to help her. Now that is what I call emotional attachment.

Another beautiful aspect of this movie is when it shows the contrast between the rich and the poor when Ali travels to the uptown part of the city or when he sees the rich kids in their bright tracksuits at the start of the race. The look on his face almost makes you feel guilty for being rich and am sure would melt the coldest of hearts. But the other side of the coin is well represented too by the longing for a companion by the rich kid, which actually leads me to the only grouse about this movie. After building up this sub plot, they eliminated it entirely from the movie. But it does keep the movie taut and crisp. I have another big problem. After seeing this particular movie, it will be hard to judge other movies by this scale (maybe I should see Singh is King once more)

But in the end, the movie is all about the extent to which a brother is willing to sacrifice for his sister and vice versa. It almost (and I emphasize the word almost, dear sis if you are reading) makes me want to stop my bickering with my sister.

Ever wanted to see something that shall linger on in your heart for ever. Go rent this DVD now

Genre :Drama

Rating: It doesn’t get any better than this

Go watch it with: Anyone

Go watch it for : Everything

Children of Heaven

Children of Heaven

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1 Comment

  1. Badrinath.V.S said,

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