Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Thoughts from the movie: "Crash"

Comprising a star studded cast of Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser and many others, the film weaves together a multi-ethnic group of characters whose lives 'crash' into one another, some with devastating results, others with redemption. Set within the city of Los Angeles, Director Paul Haggis apparently was very intentional in lifting up the covers of everyday niceties to reveal the dark side of racial discrimination. In the movie, one black man call his own race 'nigger' (a derogatory term), a white woman distrusts a Latino locksmith, a Persian shopkeeper was mistaken as an Arab and the black calling an Asian as 'chinaman'. A black film director was almost helpless when a white policeman molested his wife.

Strangely there were redemptive moments throughout the show. The white policeman who molested the black woman rescued the same woman later at an accident scene. The black who ran over an Asian eventually 'redeemed' himself by setting free some Asian slaves who were to be sold to a prostitution ring. The Persian man, frustrated by racial harassment, through some strange turn of events, saw an angel, who prevented him from committing a terrible murder. The white woman who distrusts latino people, eventually admitted to her housemaid, who is also a latino, that she, the housemaid is the closest friend she ever had. There were lots of twists and turns in the movie. The director, while trying to showcase the deep underlying racial tensions in ethnic relations in LA, also took pains to show the humanness of people, that kindness is and should be colour-blind.

In a sense, I think a movie like this serves us an important point. Like little children who took to the playground and play, regardless of language, race or religion, we ought to have eyes like little children. Perhaps as we grew older, we have abandoned our common playground for harmony and neighbourliness. We have forgotten to take turns or let others have a fair chance at life, regardless of our background. We need new playgrounds where all can play and live harmoniously together. This is what a new heaven is all about.

A movie if it simply reflects reality is not good enough. It must do more. It must point the way forward that racial tensions is simply a consequence of fear. Only in love can this fear be overcome. How can this be done? I remember a scene from another movie "Volcano", where at the very end, a little girl exclaimed that everybody looked the same, as all their faces, their clothing and their bodies were covered in grey volcanic ashes. There was no distinction at all, where everybody have the common goal of saving one another from the deadly volcanic lava. Maybe, instead of ashes which can be easily washed away by rains, we ought to change our lens to see with eyes of love.


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