|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Today I went with three friends to a special showing of all the films
nominated for the 2009 Oscar for Best Live Action Short. Oddly, the
four of us were in pretty much agreement about the films. Our pick for
best of the nominees was PIG ("Grisen"), though ON THE LINE ("Auf der
Strecke") was a very good film and is nearly as deserving of the award.
We predicted that TOYLAND ("Spielzeugland"), however, will win the
award because it's the sort of the film the Academy tends to like AND
because PIG might ruffle some feathers because it is not "politically
correct". I'll update this review after the awards are given.
This story begins with an older man going to the hospital for a minor operation. Soon after undergoing some tests, however, he's told that the operation is more serious and he'll need to stay for a few days. The doctors suspect he may have cancer. However, oddly, before he's operated on, he becomes fixated of a painting of a cute pig that is in his hospital room--he just stares and stares at it.
When he wakes up from surgery, he notices that the painting is gone. Confused and upset that this apparent good luck charm is missing, he asks his nurse but she seems apprehensive to tell him why it just disappeared. However, eventually he learns that following his surgery, another patient was placed in the next bed and that the painting was removed because it being a pig offended the family of this Muslim man. Well, the old guy is angry--after all, his biopsy has not yet come back and he wants his lucky pig because he's scared and he finds it comforting. In desperation, he phones his daughter (who is a lawyer) and invites her to come see him. When she arrives, he announces he wants to sue the hospital! He also draws a picture of the missing pig and has her put it up on the wall where the original was hung. However, almost instantly, the son of the man in the adjoining bed rips down the picture and throws it away--saying that he WON'T have a pig picture in the room because it offends him. Up until then, the daughter thought all this was silly, but with the Muslim man's arrogance and unwillingness to even talk, she becomes enraged. Later, the hospital administrator arrives and tries to placate the situation. Finally, after everyone leaves, there is a funny and very ironic twist that you'll have to see for yourself. Plus, this twist leaves you thinking perhaps there is some hope in the world after all.
This was a wonderful and very timely film--especially considering that it came from Denmark. This is the same very peaceful nation that saw insane riots in recent years because a newspaper dared to run a cartoon that portrayed the prophet Muhammad. Now I am not saying that I or the film makers or the Danes wanted to offend anyone, but this film is great in pointing out that not once did the angry son discuss the problem--he just saw that HIS rights were being violated. I really loved the scene where this same guy said that everyone should just compromise and remove the picture!! Free speech and tolerance only seems to apply to some people--and the film made this point very well using great film making and a sense of humor. However, traditionally Hollywood seems unwilling to directly attack this issue--which is odd, as extreme Islamic teaching would condemn almost every film made in the West. While Hollywood has made many films and stars have made many speeches in favor of women's and gay rights and free speech, hardly anyone in this industry seems willing to talk about how some in the Muslim world are rabidly against these values.
PIG is a perfect little short film, as it addresses the fact that fundamentalist Muslim teaching and Western free speech cannot coexist unless there is some willingness to bend on BOTH sides of the issue. It makes you think and fills the viewer with passion.
I am sure that my review will offend some and I think it's time that the Academy stop worrying about political correctness and give the film the award it truly deserves. Offensive or not, PIG is a great little film.
UPDATE: It's official, TOYLAND is the winner. This didn't surprise me at all and it was well deserving of the award, though I was still pulling for PIG to take the honors.
Also, while the other two reviews (so far) that have been made for this film point out that a Muslim would not react that way to the pig, I think they might be missing the point. The pig is a metaphorical device and not meant to be literally offensive when in the form of a painting. The son in the film finds it that way, but you have no idea what the rest of the family thinks. The film does NOT say that all Muslims react so--it's just a plot device used to illustrate a deeper point--which I think it does very well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*******May contain spoilers*********
As a Dane, the subject of free speech vs Religion, have been an issue, that have been heavily debated ever since the "Muhammad crises" in 2005 (when a news paper published 12 drawings of the prophet Muhammad). Whether you believe in one thing or the other, this film really raises a key issue, in a humorist way. the whole problem is the fine line between free speech, freedom and respect towards others, this film really illustrates that problematic issue.
the plot evolves around a picture of a pig, which is removed from an elderly patients room at a hospital, on the request of his fellow patients son, who is a Muslim.
whether or not Muslims would be offended by a picture of a pig, is not really the point of the film, no, the pig merely works as metaphor, for the relationship between two different cultures on a colliding course.
I rate this film 10 out of 10, its well produced, but more importantly, it raises a very important issue, that anyone who lives in the western world may encounter, which is, where should the line between personal freedom vs respect towards others be drawn.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Grisen" opens with an old Danish man in the back of a cab driven by a
dark-haired young man (immigrant?) blasting a rock song on the radio
calling for a return to the old days when everyone in Denmark was free.
Once in the hospital old Asbjorn is charmed by an amusing picture of a pig which offers him great comfort through the various colorectal procedures that may or may not find evidences of cancer.
One morning he wakes up to find a Muslim roommate surrounded by a huge family and his "guardian angel" pig missing. The dear old-fashioned gent is being very much put out by the Muslims who are arrogantly imposing their foreign restrictive values, and the mollycoddling liberals who just shrug and make ineffectual bureaucratic noises.
Even setting aside the many easy solutions to this dilemma that would undermine the drama ("Why doesn't Hamlet just kill the king?"), it simply re-enforces the stereotypes described above.
Actually few Muslims would care one way or another about a picture of a pig (unless it is a contrivance in a pointedly islamophobic caricature.) We don't eat pork, but a painting is just a painting and so what? Most Muslim immigrants are very adaptive, getting along fine in host countries. Of course there are obstinate characters on all sides of any question and they grab the headlines and become the focus of drama. It is too bad that with all the efforts at reconciliation and co-operation that this negative stereotype is being so promoted.
Even though much of the humor is banal and predictable, the stereotypic lawyering, the butt jokes, the film is technically well produced. Worthy of an Oscar nomination? I don't see how.
I do find it interesting that I haven't seen any protests or arguments against this film. Nobody is trying to stop it or censor it. Mine is the first complaint I've seen anywhere and even then I would not make any effort to censor it, just to ask people to consider carefully what it is saying.
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