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My Father's Son (2002)

While rugged individualism is widely celebrated in the United States, such respect is seldom accorded to society's marginalized outsiders. This documentary paints an unusual portrait of one... See full summary »
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Cast

Credited cast:
John Blalock ...
Himself
John Carrol ...
Himself
Janos Ivanich ...
Himself
Rod Maring ...
Himself
Jeanne Walter ...
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Storyline

While rugged individualism is widely celebrated in the United States, such respect is seldom accorded to society's marginalized outsiders. This documentary paints an unusual portrait of one man's quest for personal freedom and its consequences by following a resourceful, middle-aged scavenger who has chosen to live in the woods near downtown Orlando. Written by Anonymous

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12 June 2002 (USA)  »

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$60,000 (estimated)
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1.78 : 1
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User Reviews

 
A look at values and lifestyle
24 September 2006 | by See all my reviews

This film presents the life of a homeless man, John Blalock, who is living in the woods on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. The striking thing about him is that he has the mental ability to be successful in virtually any profession he should choose. He can comment intelligently on information sources pertaining to the recycling and metals industry. He theorizes about the true value of the work ethic in the context of modern society. And he questions role of fate and the possibility of conscious change in the lives of individuals.

It is also clear that he takes pride in himself and some of the things he does. In the shelter he constructs, in his methods of procuring water, in cutting the grass where he lives, and in having a small measure of financial resources(including a banking account) as a result of his scavenging activities. He has a certain work ethic of his own.

These traits are in contrast to most of the other homeless men who live in the woods near John. The other homeless individuals appear to have either personalities and/or a lack of ability that would not allow them to be successful in conventional society.

It becomes quickly apparent that John has *chosen* this life. At one point in the film, following the reunion between John, his sister, and his niece, the niece makes the comment that John is happy the way he lives. And that the fact "just amazes" her. I think most people would see John's choice as amazing.

But is it really? He has a kind of freedom that few adults ever experience, an almost Thoreau-like style of 'deliberate living'. John himself says that he doesn't think he'd be happier in the conventional world. And who is to fault him? He provides a life for himself outside of the established structures and ways of modern society. As a visiting physician notes at one point in the film, he(Blalock) chooses reality over facade. For some reason, such decisions are generally deemed illegitimate. Somehow they are the products of a mind that cannot be fully endowed. Yet it is obvious that in John's case, that is simply not true.

It is also obvious that John is not completely comfortable with his decision. He appears partially motivated by a fear of the stresses and difficulties of living a standard working lifestyle in today's world.

How can a film about a homeless man be inspirational? Because he has the courage to choose a life that suits him best regardless as to what society thinks, and to live as artfully as he can within that decision. Not many could do that, even if they wanted to. Whether they would want to, and whether John's approach is best is beside the point.


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