I love movies (like Moonlight) where the director believes in the intelligence of his/her audience while telling a powerful story and delivering a powerful message. For me, “Fire at Sea” was that way. It was a movie that was comfortable delivery subtle comments and with letting a scene slowly unfold, where it is comfortable showing the doctor give an ultrasound for five minutes or just showing four workers stare out at sea. It is a wonderful, powerful movie and the most beautiful film that way since “The Great Beauty.” Some observations (with some spoilers):
- The beginning of the movie we see the boy making a weapon and hunting birds, but at the end of the movie he is merely singing to the bird – shows our ability to change our ways.
- The doctor makes a comment that it is the responsibility of all of us to help the immigrants (who are dying).
- The doctor, during the ultrasound, can’t make out the sex of the second child since they are too intertwined. “But don’t worry, we’ll get it.” He patiently, patiently seeks the sex. I see that scene as stating we are all intertwined and too intertwined, and it will take patience and diligence and care and perserverence to resolve our/this problem. I also see the scene later in the movie where the woman takes a full five minutes to carefully make her bed as again emphasizing that things take time and persistence and patience.
- The boy is having struggles rowing – his friend throws his a lifeline so he is not crushed by the boats, then rows him to safety. That is, we all need a helping hand and we need to offer a helping hand.
- The boy has a lazy eye, so he works to correct his vision from 20/100 to 20/30 by wearing the eye patch. Later, when he is sea sick he is told to to go the sea when there are high waves to get his sea stomach. That is, we have a problem (the refugee crisis) but we can fix it with work.
- The woman wishes for a little health that day, like we all want to be healthy and happy (including the refugees). It’s not too much to ask.
I’d love to watch this movie again – these are just a few observations off the top of my head a day later and I am sure there are more.
It is a tragic tale but one that also offers help and a nudge for us to help. I wish we in the US were helping more (at a time when Donald Trump wants to do less!) – I am going to write my congress person about that. Those poor souls – and the scene of the people dead at the bottom of the boat was awful but moving, like watching the Holocaust images in some ways (and to the people who died in such misery, the result is the same).
The movie makes me want to move to Sicily 🙂
Finally, it has been a great year for documentaries. OJ: Made in America, 13th and I Am Not Your Negro were all wonderful and deserving; my vote for Oscar this year though is this one (“Fire at Sea”).