Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Small Change

Last night I once again watched Small Change, directed by Francois Truffaut. I mentioned this film in an earlier posting and stated how Truffaut is terrific at just showing the lives of children. Stylistically there is't much groundbreaking about this film. The thing is there doesn't need to be. In reading a little bit about director Yasijuro Ozu a common opinion was that Ozu was of the mindset that he didn't need to put his characters in any absurd situations. He thought that the day to day events that make up a life were interesting enough, and were stories that deserved to be told. I found myself thinking how that might apply here to Small Change.

There really is not much of a plot in this film. The story shows the day to day activities of a bunch of kids in the French town/province of Theirs. You see everything from a double date at the movies, to children trying to solve an episode of Columbo, to a child trying to show her father which goldfish is Plick, and which one is Plock, to jokes being told in the schoolyard, to lessons in the classroom. All these little episodes weave in and out of eachother pretty seamlessly. About halfway through the movie, you might find yourself developing a bit more of an affinity for some of the children than others. But, really at no point did I find myself disliking any of the children. Truffaut shows the children at their best whether he is showing the curiousity, sense of humour, or their compassion for eachother.

There is an undercurrent of a more serious story here that gets shown a full disclosure at the end, which allows a teacher to give a long speech to his classroom about the worth of children that may have been what Truffaut was leading up to the whole movie. Earlier on in the movie though the same teacher is at dinner with his wife. The wife is telling the story of a rather incredible incident that happened earlier in the day with a neighborhood 2 year old. At one point in the story she says something to the effect of, "But children are indestructable, the stumble through life and what would destroy a grown up does not destroy them." Now I paraphrased that, and probably paraphrased it poorly, but I think I got the spirit of it down. The point is interesting and I think is adressed again later in the movie in the teachers final speech. But it's interesting to think about. If anything, throughout this movie you see that each day is brand new for a child. And, yes, there are events of certain significance that can take that sense of wonder and awe away from a child, but when cared for that is how a child can see the world, brand new all the time. No grudges, no hate, thet are too smart for that. And when the wife of the teacher mentions that children are indestructable, it certainly isn't true, they still are fragile, and in our care and are our responsibilty. But when she says that certain things in life that would destroy grownups, don't destroy children she also is right about that. If that makes any sense at all. It may not, perhaps it will when you see the movie, and you should see the movie. It's phenomenal.

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