SCRIPTS FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: 1917, A HIDDEN LIFE AND JOJO RABBIT
Allegedly dealing with wars and conflicts of the previous century…
An opening shot: two men talking, by a tree.
And the final shot: Schofield alone, by another tree.
The gap opened by loss and death
Beyond the bridge created by a promise made and kept.
The family photograph: a welcome artifact that bespeaks other layers of life.
Other times, other places.
A narrative and visual technique that forces the “groaning ground” (to use the word of the script) on us. Its weight and unfriendly texture, its traps and deceptive shapes.
The elements take center stage, and reclaim the ground left by humans.
The overall destruction of the land and the lunar landscape betray what humanity is doing to itself.
Green pastures suddenly appear on screen and take on an unreal dimension: are they the gentle meadows of our dreams and aspirations?
Can the cherry trees of the orchard cut to the ground grow again? What is the collateral damage inflicted by war to the soul and its blossoms?
The earth is littered with human limbs and covered with severed hopes. Life surrenders to death.
The collective madness and the individual choices still at hand.
The lack of leadership: some want the fight anyway,
Other try to rescue dignity and honesty from the clutch of human blindness or arrogance or despair.
The toll enacted on the body and the soul runs a deadly tab.
The individual’s reluctance to kill runs counter to the diktats of war,
And devises strategies of retreat put to the test when the enemy is encountered, and retaliates mercilessly.
Yet the family picture on the bunk bed is what is left of the enemy’s presence, like some afterthought of love.
The supernatural scenes in the ruins: the theatre of war, its madness rendered through the light bleeding through a cacophony of sounds.
The chase takes on allegorical dimensions: a landscape of the mind, with the intrusion of fear and anger, of pain and trauma?
The encounter with the woman and the little girl: real, or fantasized?
The singing line provides a welcome interlude in the pervasive commotion and auditory hysteria.
The military beyond the ideological machine: individual stories and comradeship before fear and weariness return.
Pawns on the big chessboard of power trying to play their own move, and survive?
History will tell.
The jump in the water: a reminder of Skyfall,
The river scene: full immersion and rebirth, a pagan baptism,
And a mission accomplished indeed.
Schofield alias WW1 James Bond
A moment of relief.
The movie combines many codes and genres (the thriller, the buddy movie, the war movie) to orchestrate a powerful plea against war
And pay tribute to humanity as it survives through acts of Love.
A HIDDEN LIFE
The camera work, the soundtrack, the ability of cinema to conjure up visually powerful scenes.
The parallel editing, an occasional dream-like quality and mood.
The appeal to the senses
The magic of moving images on screen.
The increasing darkness, the gathering clouds.
The mountains and the farm scenes
The jail scenes and the trial scenes
The newsreel scenes.
Shouting, heard or just mimicked; angry faces,
Torture and intimidation.
The judge and Franz: “do you judge me?”
The unflinching decision, the iron will.
The well running dry back home.
People’s meanness, and retaliation.
Former friends turn against you
While others show mercy.
Acts of gratuitous love: giving food away even when you are starving.
Voices trying to use all arguments to make you surrender.
“I feel I cannot do what I feel is wrong”
Declaring a separate truth from hatred.
Love redeemed. Redemptive love.
Those who have eyes, may they see.
Those who have ears, may they hear.
The subtitle on the script provides a guiding hand through the bold scenes : an anti-hatred satire.
The youth camp.
Forms of bullying and hazing
The inoculation of hatred.
The caricatures, and the reality.
Ideas are formed and upheld,
Prejudices generate caricatures, and more.
As Elsa tells Jojo: “you just want to belong to a club”.
Yet Jojo takes a chance on other being another human being.
Befriends the avowed enemy.
Questions arise, and can no longer be silenced.
“what did they do?””They did what they could”.
The mother keeps her secret, the son begins to wonder and think.
Elsa and the mother, in the shadow of the lost sister Inge.
The single loyal friend, the buddy, confider and supporter.
Captain K: how to make do with evil when you still have goodness in you.
A mother’s love despite it all.
A dance, a bike ride, and then a hanging.
A brutal epiphany in its wake.
The allegorical scene of destruction ushers us into another register.
The tonal shift signals a different agenda
The landscapes of our nightmares and the daily images of warfare on the Internet overlap with the fiction of the movie.
Questions arise for us too.
What can we do to avert the destruction engineered by our contemporary hatreds? And protect the Jojos and Elsas of our times,
Jojo’s final kick to the imaginary friend turned bully: a deliverance.
Love of the other prevails over a desire to possess and control.
The legacy of his mother’s altruism lives on in Jojo’s own act of compassion.
It is up to him to free the caged rabbit. And he will.
The movie is likely to end on a dance, off stage, after the credits. Elsa’s desire was to dance to celebrate her recovered freedom and life.
Satire and beyond, the film has risked bold and original steps to perform for us an unusual dance. Let’s imagine music to it. And leap on.