If the parts of a ship are replaced, bit-by-bit, is it still the same ship? A celebrated experimental photographer struggles with the loss of her intuitive genius as an unexpected aftermath of a physical change; an intellectual monk confronting a complex ethical dilemma with a long held ideology, has to choose between principle and death; and a young stockbroker, following the trail of a stolen kidney, learns how intricate morality could be. These disparate characters manifest philosophical dilemmas in their personal lives, but their narratives converge to reveal an even larger fabric of connections, meaning, beauty, existence and death in a delicately poetic finale. Written by
The male silkworm can smell a single molecule of pheromone. If I had an olfaction as developed, I wouldn't be able to stand your smell...
You wouldn't be able to stand your own smell... with your frequency of showers per month...
Even subtle differences... would I have seen the world very differently if I had smaller nostrils? If I was taller or shorter?
Or would the world have been a different place if Hitler was shorter? Or Gandhi taller?
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Organ transplants are a more interesting topic than I ever imagined. Some dark side effects give much food for thought
Transplantation of body parts seems very useful, and cannot be thought away anymore from our current way of life. However, there are dark sides around it that we never see or even want to consider that they exist. Three stories, or rather parables, take us on a journey through these dark sides. This film was part of the Rotterdam film festival 2013.
The first story about a blind (!) photographer is the least sombre of the three. Though being blind (we don't hear whether she is born that way, or acquired blindness later) she proves to be very talented in her profession, producing very original images in a way that no one else can imitate. Despite her handicap she lives a full life, is happily married, and is very able to find her way outside while making photographs. We see interesting in-house discussions with her husband about the photo's she decides to dismiss, based solely on her intuition, and about her reluctance to keep copies anyway for possible use later. We see the process of being cured from her blindness from a transplant operation. Alas, it does not improve her professional skills, however strange that may seem. In the end we see her overwhelmed by the multitude of images on the street, something that we are used to and are able to cope with easily. But unlike her past method of operation where she could easily find the crucial elements of a situation, and make that the core of her photos, she is now unable to choose, and practically seems to have lost her professional capabilities. This is where her story ends.
The second story involves animal testing, as something that cannot be avoided to advance medical science. The main character decides to not have his liver transplanted, though everyone in his environment pressures him to drop his objections. We see arguments pro and con, partly in the format of court proceedings, and partly in the form of images from animal testing. But our main character's condition worsens, until he eventually gives in and decides to be operated anyway. We don't see how it works out, because the second story ends here.
The third story is the most complex one, also providing the most material to ponder about aforementioned dark side effects. A man who himself has been given a donor kidney, visits his mother in hospital, and learns by accident about someone who was taken his kidney away while having an appendix operation. It happened in a shady hospital, apparently making money from covert operations like this. He delves deeper in the matter, and eventually finds the recipient of the kidney in Sweden. The latter is not aware of the sinister ways he received his transplant, and only heard that the donor was paid very well and consented with the transfer. A stalemate situation is reached, since the organ cannot be given back to the rightful owner. It serves no useful purpose to condense the rest of the story here, but it triggers many thoughts about this transplant "industry", initially created to help people in need but also yielding side effects we don't want to know.
All in all, I was reasonably satisfied having seen this film. It lets you think about issues that you rather want to reason away. My only problem with the film were the switches from story to story, which were not clearly delineated. Suddenly you see other characters appear on screen, different from the story at hand, and that is the only clue you get that a new story is about to start. The opening lines about the Theseus ship is a nice stepping stone to think about the parts our body is made of, and whether exchanging some of the parts make you a different person.
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