Monday, April 4, 2011

Radiating Truth

I subscribe to Netflix and often, following their suggestions based on my ratings of movies I’ve seen, wind up watching extraordinary films that would never have made it to an small town in northern Colorado. None has been so eerily timely and foreboding as the one I watched this weekend.

It was Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, made in 1990. Comprised of eight vignettes, all surreal to a greater or lesser degree, the film accumulates into a powerful message about our relationship with earth and our fellow inhabitants.

The sixth and seventh segments were particularly spooky. The first, Mount Fuji in Red, depicted the effects of exploding nuclear plants. Then Weeping Demon depicted the mutations of plants and people caused by radiation.

I once had a work assignment in Hiroshima. I visited the Peace Park where I saw depictions of the effects of the bomb and memorials to all those killed. And I saw the thousands of origami cranes (sent from all over the world) piled at the foot of the statue to Sadako Sasaki, the little girl who died from radiation poisoning – like so many others. Her death made the legend of the paper cranes an international symbol of peace.

Now much of Japan – and the rest of the planet – is again dealing with radiation.

It would have been too hard to watch the film if it had not been so beautiful and had not ended with the final dream: The Village of the Watermills. In ultimately lovely surroundings – clear water streams, flowers, trees – an old man tells a traveler of village life, deliberately kept simple … and clean. Never, he says, did they succumb to the allure of convenience. His warning: too much is destroyed, too much is lost when people insist on choosing the easiest way to do things, to communicate.

I suppose that that’s not the answer to all the challenges now facing this planet and its predator people but it was certainly something to contemplate. And I’m glad it wound up on my television set in a small town in northern Colorado.

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