One of the truly great things about my schedule as a student is that it is often randomly variant flexible enough that I can do things that many Dads can’t – like being the mom-helper at the kids school. Last week Matea and Micah had an all day field trip and I went along.
We caught the bus from in front of our town hall – and went down to the big city. First we went to the cinema. It was actually very interesting since the cinema was not yet open and we were the only ones there, so they gave the kids a behind-the-scenes tour of the projection rooms, showing them film projectors, digital 3D projectors etc. Then after they were told to RUN around the theatre and figure out which was the largest and which was the smallest hall in order to give their legs a stretch
Then it was show time. Of course if you were to choose a film for a group of 5-8 year old kids to watch, what would you pick? WRONG. that’s because you are not French. (unless you are of course French in which case: Ecusez-moi, vous avezrépondu correctement) You see – you would pick something like Shrek 3, or KungFu Panda 2 as you view film as entertainment. For the French- it appears to me that it is actually culture. Before the film started the kids were given a little speech on how in order for us to live well together as a society, you have to have respect for each other – and that includes behaving well in the cinema when a film is playing.
Like music, live theatre, and gastronomy – films seem to be generally viewed more as culture. Something which you need to learn, to appreciate, to acquire taste for, and to understand. To start with – it is really part of French history. It would seem that between Louis Le Prince, the Lumière brothers, the Pathé brothers, Georges Méliès, and a few others, the French basically developed movie cameras, projectors, film, cinema, special effects and everything else. Needless to say – cinéma is a bit more serious than it is in North America. Last year two significant art-house cinemas in Paris closed over Christmas in protest over not getting enough of the best independent films, which were instead going to the Big 4 firms which control a significant share of screens nationally. One of these theaters, le Balzac, just off the Champs- Elysées covered the front of the building with a banner that quoted he existentialist writer, Albert Camus: “Everything which degrades culture shortens the path to servitude”
So the movie was Le Tableau (the Painting) about these characters who live in a painting, and come alive, and go to other paintings in search of the painter as they want him to come back and finish those who are just sketches because they are basically subject to apartheid-like treatment in the kingdom in the painting.
It had forbidden love (between a ‘not-finished’ and a regular-character), class-warfare, bravely overcoming fear to fight oppression, search for higher meaning, respect for the fine arts, being abandoned by God and basically everything else you’d expect in a children’s film
That was just the morning. Then there was a picnic in a park – then on to the Museum of Natural History.
It was an exhausting day for the kids (some fell asleep on the 25min ride home) but fun. And I enjoyed being able to spend it with two of my kids.