Saturday, September 24, 2005

Antonia('s Line)

1996 Oscar Winner Best Foreign Language Film

Dir: Marleen Gorris (Mrs. Dalloway)

Dutch film examining generations of strong women in a small village. Bit of a controversy on the title. The DVD lists it as "Antonia's Line," but the movie itself says just one word, "Antonia." So I equivocate. I don't speak Dutch.

This movie is Europe in a nutshell. The good and the bad. "Antonia" is all about secularism, anti-chauvinism, and tolerance. It is also about crushing pessimism and a stultifying sense of its own genius. Antonia returns home and refuses to be hemmed in by her provincial town. Her daughter and subsequent "line" assert their own independence and explore their apparently limitless intellects. Feminism is supposed to be countering existentialism here, but I think it might be a draw.

I can't say the movie particularly moved me. But it is clearly not intended for me. Can one flourish in a world without God, without the Father (both the deity and the worldy male?) Sure, says Marcus! I never had the former, and American individualism let's me take for granted the latter. Europe has centuries of history to deal with, and this film is wrapped in that context. I kept wondering if it was fighting a battle long since won.

I don't mean to say that the movie is depressing (although both Nietzsche and Schopenhauer are quoted extensively). Some parts are rather funny. But the issues this movie deals with, comedically or no, are not my own.

Ethnocentrism rears its ugly head. I did not dig the film, through no fault of its own.