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Sverre Anker Ousdal
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Michael has everything under control: a successful military career, a beautiful wife and two daughters. His younger brother Jannik is a drifter, living on the edge of the law. When Michael is sent to Afghanistan on a UN mission the balance between the two brothers changes forever. Michael is missing in action - presumed dead - and Sarah is comforted by Jannik, who against all odds shows himself capable of taking responsibility for both himself and the family. It soon becomes clear that their feelings have developed beyond mutual sympathy. When Michael comes home, traumatized by being held prisoner in the mountains of Afghanistan, nothing is the same... Written by
Learning to forgive oneself is not easy to do. A hard medicine of a film, thought-provoking and 'soberingly' touching.
The Danish film "Brothers" 2004 aka Brodre, w-d by Susanne Bier, is NFE (may not be for everyone). It's about love, a showdown of emotions (the opening music and repeated strains remind me of Sergio Leone's spaghetti western sounding tone). The fact that Michael ('Tour De Force' performance from Ulrich Thomsen of "The Celebration" 1998 aka Festen) keeping his traumatic experience within himself, unable to share with anyone, even his dear wife, is a sobering thought from the post-war effects. He's full of paranoia and is suspicious of everyone around him. It's so hard on him, on family members/children who do not understand what he had gone through that affected his 'warped' emotions and predicament. We cannot weather trauma alone.
As audience, we were privy to what happened to Michael as a prisoner of war - we saw what he had to experience - the circumstance and 'no-choice' decision at the time. His determined will focused on 'must stay alive to see his family and loving wife again' kept him hanging on amidst fear and uncertainty under the atrocities/ravage of war. Learning to forgive oneself - to not blame yourself - is not easy to do. What happen happened under circumstances out of your control and yes, it's easier said than done to say that you mustn't bear the burden or guilt feeling within you. We need the love and support of family/people around us - to be able to trust them that they would listen and understand.
Connie Nielsen as Michael's wife Sarah and Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Michael's younger brother, Jannik, provided an insightful portrait of the triangle of relationships that thrived and yet to survive. In the opening of the film, Bier has on screen along with intriguing graphic imagery and an eye close-up: "I will always love you. That is the only truth that remains. Life is neither right nor wrong, good or bad. But I love you. That's all I know." Towards the end, the graphic imagery and the eye repeated: "Life is neither right nor wrong, good or bad. But I love you. That's all I know."
I caught on Sundance Channel, Dutch documentary filmmaker Heddy Honigmann's "Crazy" 2000, provides 'unpresuming' accounts of how some of the once Dutch soldiers or former workers of UN missions, are dealing with post-war effects by listening or tuning to music as relief. She also did "Good Husband, Dear Son" 2001, a documentary about the surviving women reminiscing their loss of husbands and sons during the 1992 Yugoslav civil war. It's heart-breaking films worth watching.
From the PBS special of Dr. Wayne Dyer's Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling, I heard about Immaculée Ilibagiza's book (collaborated with writer-journalist Steve Erwin) "Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" - sounds like the act of forgiveness can be easier to practice by learning from her autobiographical account. Couldn't wait to absorb from her shared spirituality.
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