The presence that lifts

By: Daniel Céspedes Góngora

Children don’t have to be retained as property. Our extension for what they have physically and psychically inherited, this is another possibility of being a person in this world, of sharing with others a different spirituality. While still loving their parents, children have the right to embrace some freedom as far as they are permitted. Freedom that involves leaving and seeking that life that, at the end of the day, suits more than it is and can actually be achieved.

Children are not born to serve parents or realize dreams they could not achieve. However, children know that the stages of each other’s existence impose a rhythm and perhaps a style. While some go in search of their goals, others return or, in many cases, stop for tiredness or illness. That’s when they need to be picked up on the way back. Parents might appreciate the support of strangers, but identifying the concerned child who returns for care and love provides satisfaction that translates into safety and assurance. Guarantee in what way? You’ll wonder a few. Guarantee of friction and continuity. Pope Francis said:

“We do not warn that isolating the elderly and abandoning them by others without proper close family accompaniment, mutilates and impoverishes the same family. Moreover, it ends up depriving young people of this necessary contact with their roots and with a wisdom that youth alone cannot attain.”1

The presence of the children or one of them in the house is a comfort to parents who have already aged. He does not return or is to give back to those who gave you life and learned of your birth, but out of consideration, gratitude, and love. Being entitled for new generations of very different judgments about life does not mean that they exclude affection and attention from previous generations. The Bible reads: “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged on the earth that the LORD your God gives you.”

Perhaps one of the most beautiful and complicated relationships without talking about the latter, because what prevails is the father’s love for the son and vice versa, we find it in Legend of Passion (Edward Zwick, 1994), a film with many memorable moments that summarizes tristan (Brad Pitt)’s return to his home, to meet his father Colonel Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins). Here the retired soldier remembers the merciful father of the parable of the prodigal son. Twenty-seven years later, playing another father, Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins returns in The Father (Florian Zeller, 2020) to play Anthony, a decaying parent, because Alzheimer’s disease has begun to play his own in his body by deteriorating his cognition and behavior. However, when his daughter Anne (Olvia Colman) seems to want to leave and manifests it to him, he replies with full awareness of what is going to happen: “So, if I understand it correctly, you are leaving me. Is that it? You’re abandoning me.” But does this really happen or reflect what he fears most about happening with his life?

In that reduced, mind-blowing world of Anthony, people come and go that he’s known or maybe not. Of those who continually torment him is Paul (Rufus Sewell), who was Anne’s husband and is, in fact, the person who seems to criticize the old man the most for being an obstacle in his love affair. And I write seems, because the time comes when you choose to narrate the previous before the decline. Memory and history begin to be represented by hindsight, an effective resource if it does not neglect the conflict of the main character. Although more than retrospective there is a return to what we have already seen, but with variations. By reiterating information with comments, visuality and storytelling in general they emulate neurodegenerative disease. It is also symptomatic how reality and memories begin to get complicated for Anthony and also for the viewer.

The adaptation of the french director’s own play has been very well received around the world. Some have preferred the Colman’s silences more to Hopkins’ cries. The first thing is to be located in what the characters have to give. Both actors are at a very high level of performance. We don’t know what’s going to happen to The Father’s six Oscar nominations. Win in the section that is or leaves without any prize of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it will remain one of those unforgettable dramas for hard and beautiful where existential twilight is accompanied with love with great desire. Ω



[1] Francesco: Fratelli tutti Encyclical Letter. About fraternity and social friendship, 2020, 19.

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