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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Intertext and the mouths of babes

Sometimes drafting an essay can really make you ponder the profound things of God. Well, not usually, but sometimes.

In his award winning film The Sweet Hereafter, Atom Egoyan parallels aspects of his narrative with text from Robert Browning's The Pied Piper of Hamelin. One scene depicts the character Nicole Burnell (Sarah Polly) reading the Browning poem to two children that is babysitting. The story goes like this: The town of Hamelin becomes infested with vermin. They hire the piper to rid the town of the vermin with his charming pipe music. He does the job splendidly. When he asks for the payment he was promised, the mayor refuses and begins to insult him. The saddend piper turns and walks out to the street and begins to play his pipe. As he plays, all of the towns children come out and begin to follow him. He leads them up the side of a mountain and

A wonderous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed,
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.

So, I am writing a paper on the intertextuality in the The Sweet Hereafter. (I'm also commenting on Egoyan's heavy use of Tragically Hip songs. Cool.) I was watching clips from the movie (that I've seen a million times) when a line really surprised me. As Nicole (Polly) is reading the poem to the children, the boy interupts and asks, "Nicole, did the Piper take the children because he was mad the town didn't pay him?" Nicole answers, "Yes." The boy continues, "If the Piper knew magic, why couldn't he use his magic to make the people pay him?"

The Sweet Hereafter is a story that is centered on a school bus accident in which the boy above and his sister and many of the towns children die.

I am not saying that God is just like the Pied Piper. One of the interesting things Egoyan does in the film is constantly transition between scenes by having the camera pan up into the sky as if it is looking for God. The boy's question really gets to the heart of the pain we feel when life really hurts and absolutely unexplainable things happen. In a strange sort of way, Mason's question (that's the boys name in the film) really made me think about how much I really believe and even more how much I live like I believe that God is completely in control.

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Blogger Kirsten said...

I have also been pondering the difference between 'control' and 'cause'.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Son of Man said...

good point

9:22 PM  
Blogger Nagoda said...

Josh, i see that you finally added me! One small quibble: am i not worthy to be one of your "brilliant and charming peers"? For shame man :p

12:28 PM  
Blogger Justin Alm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Justin Alm said...

T-dot people have some of the most interesting questions and perspectives. I enjoy this post. Concerning the idea of 'cause' and 'control', I developed a perspective. "Life exists in the interaction between initiative, patience, and grace."

1:45 AM  
Blogger Loco said...

i heart that film.

i had to do a film review in high school based on that movie for my drama class. beautiful story.

interesting thoughts on this film...

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Satin said...

Good for people to know.

10:22 PM  

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