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I'm going to split my

I'm going to split my response up, as even on the computer I can only see a few lines at a time and cutting and pasting quotes makes it a mess.

 

There were a couple of other aspects that troubled me as well. I was almost angry at the brief portrayal of the childbirth. There was a few second snapshot of the labour. You could choose any moment, and not every birth has screaming agony. But it seemed to be there was a clear compilation of shots leading up to and including the childbirth to show how horrific having a baby conceived in rape was, and that we had a screaming agony shot, which had the effect of showing 'a rape baby is really painful'. I thought this was really ill thought through and arguably quite offensive.

 

I've also made a note to myself that I wasn't convinced by the 'feminist debate' re wearing makeup when the girls were all locked up together. I can't now, a few weeks after watching, remember exactly what happened. Soz, maybe someone has a better memory than me.

 

I take on board what you say Mike about dehumanisation and degradation in war. I think if this was the first film raising these sorts of issues then I may have been more tolerant of it. It's not, and I'm familiar with the issues you raise. Indeed, and unfortunately, warfar has moved on since this war. I only recently watched Hotel Rwanda (an amazing film) and read up online on the subject quite a bit. Rape in that war was actively used as a weapon. Patients infected with AIDS and HIV were sent out as 'rape squads' as a further means of genocide. I'm not sure where that takes us, other than that despite being utterly grim this film did not exactly push the envelope in terms of the bleak situations that go on in war. I think I just don't like watching portrayals of systematic sexual abuse.

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BenLaw wrote:

BenLaw wrote:

Quote:
So in simple terms, it is the storyline of forgiveness and hope, coming from unspeakable evil.

If one sees the film like that, I can see why someone might like it. I didn't get that from the film.

I believe that is the story that the film, and presumably also the book, is trying to communicate - but like you I don't think the film does a good job of it.

BenLaw wrote:

I then felt almost all of the film was a miserable, bleak ordeal. And the concluding scenes felt tacked on and unrelated to the ordeal. I never saw coming that it was going to be that film about whether you keep a bay conceived by rape. And if it was going to be that film, I thought the emotions and considerations were criminally underdone. As I say, it felt tacked on. Given what you say about the book, it makes sense now why it was tacked on at the end, but for me it didn't put what happened earlier in context, nor did it have enough for me to get inside someone's head about having to make that sort of decision. The book structure, and no doubt length and detail, does indeed sound preferable.

I agree that the concluding scenes felt tacked on, with several important story elements following on, one after another, much too fast to really understand whilst the film was running. It was easy to deduce from the body language, that Samira ended up wanting to keep the child - however the transitions from wanting an abortion, through wanting the child adopted, to eventually wanting to keep the child, happened too fast to understand what persuaded her to change her mind. Like you, I think the book format probably allows the reader to get inside Samiras mind, and understand her decisions.

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BenLaw wrote:

BenLaw wrote:

I was almost angry at the brief portrayal of the childbirth. There was a few second snapshot of the labour. You could choose any moment, and not every birth has screaming agony. But it seemed to be there was a clear compilation of shots leading up to and including the childbirth to show how horrific having a baby conceived in rape was, and that we had a screaming agony shot, which had the effect of showing 'a rape baby is really painful'. I thought this was really ill thought through and arguably quite offensive.

I hadn't thought about that, and I would need to watch the film again before I could comment.

BenLaw wrote:

I've also made a note to myself that I wasn't convinced by the 'feminist debate' re wearing makeup when the girls were all locked up together. I can't now, a few weeks after watching, remember exactly what happened. Soz, maybe someone has a better memory than me.

I took that to be what was referred in the DVD description as "In a final act of courage or madness, Samira decides to make one last stand: to dare to be herself. And this simple act saves her life." However the film does not do a good job of explaining this decision, given that it is considered a key turning point in the story. We are left unsure as to whether it was madness, or "acceptance" that looking more appealling may result in less degrading treatment. Alternatively does it carry echoes of Stockholm Syndrome, with Samira beginning to empathise with her captors, after being a prisoner for several months? Again I think the book probably provides more information, to understand her thoughts.

Instead of "feminist overtones" I thought the response of the other girls was similar to in many occupied coultries during wars. There is usually an ethos that one should not fraternise with the enemy, in order to gain better rations/treatment etc. That includes wearing makeup, to make oneself more attractive to the troops. However the girls did not seem to hold a deep grudge about the matter.

BenLaw wrote:

I only recently watched Hotel Rwanda (an amazing film) and read up online on the subject quite a bit.

When I was choosing my nominations, I mentioned to a friend that I was considering trying to find 3 films with a common theme of portraying how war puts/affects individuals in difficult situations (ie not gung ho war films), and she recommended Hotel Rwanda. In the end I thought that 3 war films would too much to offer, so I just chose the one. Given the new rules for nominating films, Hotel Rwanda would be a risky film to nominate, because at least one member of the club has already seen it.

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My Goldfish like memory is

My Goldfish like memory is struggling to recall the details of the film, even though it was less than a week ago I watched it.

Concerning the childbirth scene, I'd have to watch it again to give an opinion.

I can't quite remember if the Captain had already noticed Samira before she chose to start wearing make-up, or if he only noticed her once she decided to start wearing it, but whilst watching the film, I remember thinking that she had decided to sacrifice herself for the sake of the group. Thinking about it now though, I'm pretty sure that she did it to make things easier for herself, and any benefits the others girls received from Samira going with the Captain, were secondary to her own. The sex she had with the captain was far less brutal than the gang rapes she had suffered before, and although any non-consensual sex is still rape, a bed, and a level of normality has got to be preferential to what she and the others had endured at the hands of the others, and who among us wouldn't take that option if it was offered?

I can't say I enjoyed the film, as any film with this subject matter is going to upset and anger the viewer, but it was watchable, though not a film I'd like to return to other than to clarify details.

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If I recall correctly, she

If I recall correctly, she started wearing make up after their first 'encounter'. But like you BB, I'm struggling to remember little things that are being mentioned, as I've watched 20 films since then!

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David@FrankHarvey wrote:

David@FrankHarvey wrote:

If I recall correctly, she started wearing make up after their first 'encounter'. But like you BB, I'm struggling to remember little things that are being mentioned, as I've watched 20 films since then!

I haven't seen the film but applying make-up is not always done just to atttract or please men.  It could just be a compensatary little act of self-esteem or even rebellion. "I am going to do something normal in this hell-hole." (Rather like a man in the rat-infested  trenches might polish his shoes and shave before going into a battle where certain death looms.)

A normal everyday act, from a normal everyday life, being done despite extraordinarily debasing circumstances.

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chebby wrote:

chebby wrote:

I haven't seen the film but applying make-up is not always done just to atttract or please men.  It could just be a compensatary little act of self-esteem or even rebellion. "I am going to do something normal in this hell-hole." (Rather like a man in the rat-infested  trenches might polish his shoes and shave before going into a battle where certain death looms.)

A normal everyday act, from a normal everyday life, being done despite extraordinarily debasing circumstances.

That's exactly the reason Samira gives for applying the make-up. 

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David@FrankHarvey wrote:

David@FrankHarvey wrote:

If I recall correctly, she started wearing make up after their first 'encounter'. But like you BB, I'm struggling to remember little things that are being mentioned, as I've watched 20 films since then!

I've just checked, and she starts wearing make-up immediately after the little girl is killed, and before she first meets the Captain.

Her first experience was truly awful, but the one after that is with a young soldier, who just wants to cuddle and sleep next to her. I think this experience also influenced her thinking in the decision to start wearing make-up.

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expat_mike wrote:

expat_mike wrote:

In contrast the book starts with Samira already escaped to Sweden, and presumably uses flashbacks of the past events, to support her gradual change of mind from abortion (foetus too old), via adoption, to eventually wanting to keep the baby, and bring hope. I wonder if that is a more interesting structure to tell this story, rather than the film structure.

For a while, I had not realised that Samira had escaped to Sweden, which makes me question whether a couple of minutes of film could have been added, making clear the act of fleeing.

The film begins with Samira lying in a hospital bed , with the baby lying in a cot looking at her, which is also a scene shown towards the end. She is then seen having a shower, and having a brief flashback of the urinating scene, and then after losing blood in the shower, we are transported back to her life before the war began. 

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BenLaw wrote:

BenLaw wrote:

There were a couple of other aspects that troubled me as well. I was almost angry at the brief portrayal of the childbirth. There was a few second snapshot of the labour. You could choose any moment, and not every birth has screaming agony. But it seemed to be there was a clear compilation of shots leading up to and including the childbirth to show how horrific having a baby conceived in rape was, and that we had a screaming agony shot, which had the effect of showing 'a rape baby is really painful'. I thought this was really ill thought through and arguably quite offensive.

To me, there's a small detail during the childbirth scene, which is very important. Samira refuses the gas whilst she is in the process of giving birth, she wants the birth to be as painful as possible, because she wants to hate the baby because of how it was conceived.

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BIGBERNARDBRESSLAW wrote:

BIGBERNARDBRESSLAW wrote:

To me, there's a small detail during the childbirth scene, which is very important. Samira refuses the gas whilst she is in the process of giving birth, she wants the birth to be as painful as possible, because she wants to hate the baby because of how it was conceived.

This sounds plausible to me. It aligns with a section from the book description on  http://www.amazon.co.uk/As-If-Am-Not-There/dp/0349112622

"After some months S. finds out she is pregnant. She's devastated and resolves to have the baby aborted. However, when she's finally released it's too late and she when she's evacuated to Sweden she gives birth to the child. S. changes her mind about giving it up for adoption: she realises that it's not the child's fault that it was conceived in violence and that out of the act some good - this new life - can still come."

I also think that at the time of the birth, as you say, she wanted "to hate the baby because of how it was conceived.".

However the film wasn't clear in showing her realising that it is not the baby's fault, and as a consequence it would be wrong to punish (or take revenge on?) the baby. I suspect the book explains it better.

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BIGBERNARDBRESSLAW wrote:To

BIGBERNARDBRESSLAW wrote:
To me, there's a small detail during the childbirth scene, which is very important. Samira refuses the gas whilst she is in the process of giving birth, she wants the birth to be as painful as possible, because she wants to hate the baby because of how it was conceived.

Or could it be that she wants it to hurt more than what happened to her, so that the memory of her worst pain is chilbirth rather than rape?

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Bought a couple more DVDs in

Bought a couple more DVDs in a charity shop this afternoon.

The White Ribbon 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1149362/?ref_=nv_sr_1

A Seperation 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1832382/?ref_=nv_sr_1

 

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I've had White Ribbon for

I've had White Ribbon for years but still haven't got round to watching it. Sounds like it should be very good. 

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BIGBERNARDBRESSLAW wrote:

BIGBERNARDBRESSLAW wrote:

chebby wrote:

I haven't seen the film but applying make-up is not always done just to atttract or please men.  It could just be a compensatary little act of self-esteem or even rebellion. "I am going to do something normal in this hell-hole." (Rather like a man in the rat-infested  trenches might polish his shoes and shave before going into a battle where certain death looms.)

A normal everyday act, from a normal everyday life, being done despite extraordinarily debasing circumstances.

That's exactly the reason Samira gives for applying the make-up. 

 

I may also be misremembering but my recollection is it is presented, at least to some degree, as a feminist act, along the lines of 'despite the horror and depravity I can still be a woman!' This seemed at best a little shallow and at worst crass and offensive. Coupled with the painful childbirth (which even if BBB's explanation is correct portrays a simplistic and incorrect premise that childbirth without drugs must be incredibly painful) it seemed to be a shallow and naive portrayal of womanhood (if that's the right word, it seems contextually better than femininity). I was surprised when I checked that the novel's author and the director were both women. 

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