Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The power of Art

Donna M. Hughes a professor & Carlson Endowed Chair in Women's Studies at the University of Rhode Island has written a article on the impact of the movie Lilya-4-Ever is having in awakening people to the Sex Slave Trade. She draws comparison between the impact Uncle Tom's Cabin had on the Abolitionist movement and what she hopes will become a new abolition movement to eradicate the Sex Slave Trade. She talks about how the movie gets a reaction form the viewers without any good insight into why. More importantly there is a detached feel when describing the movie as if perhaps she herself has not watched.

If she hasn't, I don't blame her.

I went up to the Cleveland International Film Festival this spring and ended up settling on Lilya-4-Ever with my date. The film we had wanted to see for the night cap was sold out and she was intrigued by the slavery side of the film while I was just hoping to see some nice Saabs in the Swedish half of the flick. After spending the day watching silly documentaries, empowering biographies and light humor we where ill prepared for the emotional tax that Lilya-4-Ever charges. After the show was over we had nothing to say to each other for the next few hours while we decompressed from the experience.

The film is so mind numbingly powerful it changed my long held - life long held - view of suicide. I have always had zero pity for those who took their own life's and in some case I felt pure contempt for those who committed suicide. So of a "good riddance" view. Now that's changed. I have now seen a case where I understand. The film drags you from what turns out to be the high point of Lilya's life right to the end and when it comes it is a release. A release not just for her but those viewing the film as well. The emotional brutality of the film doesn't need her to come to an end. The message that creates the impact for the Sex Slave Trade happens well before Lilya ends her life. In frugal view of the movie it's questionable to whether the end is at all needed for the story. The film could have ended 10 minutes early with a fade out of Lilya's dazed lost expression and been just as shocking. I think the director does it to release the audience. Let us know that Lilya can not be hurt anymore and allow us to sleep.

If you get the chance to see Lilya-4-Ever I recommend it with 2 qualifiers: First, don't bring a date. You do not want someone you are interested in associating this film with you. Second, it's an emotional buzz saw. If you aren't feeling like seeing something serious then run away.

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