Monday, June 20, 2011

Super 8

For those that did not read my post on today's Widow's Voice, you might want to follow the link and read before continuing.

A Child's Grief.

For those that have read it, you will see the irony in finding myself in the theatre, watching this film.
I picked up my son from his summer day camp this afternoon, and was eager to hear about his first day. His initial comment was that it was kind of boring, but then he quickly shifted gears, and said that he did enjoy getting to know this younger kid. They both attended a Skateboard/Scootering Camp, and he came home with all the expected scrapes and bruises.
On the way home I mentioned that I wanted to stop and have dinner, as I don't usually cook at home but a couple of times a week. He quickly noticed that we were by one of the local malls, and suggested we eat dinner at the food court. I made a quick and abrupt right turn, and parked the car. After we were finishing our meals, his a hot dog on a stick, and mine, Mediterranean, he asked if we could see a movie, as the theatre was conveniently right next to the food court. Hmn, was I just had? I laughed at his clever ploy, and said that I was quite tired from work, but he reminded me that I have taken many a nap in other movie theatres.
Because we didn't want to be out too late, we chose a film that was just about to start, Super8. I didn't know much about the film, other than it was a bit of a retro sci-fi. I thought, okay, it looks like fun. I had never been much of a sci-fi fan, but that changed when I met Michael. He was the biggest sci-fi freak. I remember the kids looking at me strangely when Michael would first start coming over to the house for dinner and a movie. Eventually the kids walked into the living room to announce that "our dad must really like you because he hates sci-fi films." Oh how poetic kids can be.
Anyway, yes it is a sci-fi, and a fun one at that. The part I had no idea about was the back story. As the film opens, the boy, who happens to be the same age as my son, is sitting outside on a swing, as guests fill his house. He is sitting there in a black suit, and as the camera winds it's way into the house, it is clear that this is a funeral reception. The boys mother died, and he is left alone with his grieving dad. The film them quickly moves forward four months later. The kid is at his friend's house across the street. His friend comes from a large family, which includes five other siblings, a mom, and a dad. The house is loud, chaotic, with kids running and laughing throughout. Quickly we hear the mother calling her kids to the dinner table, which is filled with a big home cooked meal. The mother looks to the main character, and lets him know there is plenty of food if he wants to stay. He thanks her, but says he needs to get home, as he has dinner waiting for him there as well.
The boy walks across the street, and you begin to see his body language change. It's as if he is suddenly carrying a heavy load. He opens the door, and enters his house, which is quiet, and still. He walks through the kitchen, which has an obvious layer of dust throughout. He walks down the hall, and calls out for his dad. As he comes to the end of the hall way he sees his dad, sitting alone in the bathroom, his eyes, and face, filled with tears. The father quickly wipes the tears from his face, and with a quick closing of the bathroom door, he announces that he will be out in a minute.
Loss. It's everywhere. It's in my life. It's in my son's life. And, it's on the screen in this harmless sci-fi movie. I won't go too far into the plot, but it's your basic alien, trying to get back home. Near the end, the boys says to the alien that he understands. He tells the alien that “Bad things happen, but you can still live.” It's corny, yes, but spoken from one who knows.

Throughout the movie we see the father and son at odds. They are both grieving, and are joined by their loss, but they grieve in very different ways. They are separated mid way through the story, and in the end are reunited. When they do find each other, the father holds his son so tightly, that you know he doesn't want to lose him again. He then whispers into his ear, “I’m just doing the best I can to save you.”

Isn't that what we are all trying to do? I know that is what I am trying to do. I'm not always good at it. I sometimes get angry, and lose sight of the fact that my son is also grieving, and in a way that is not my own. I need to remember that he too fears that we may not find our way back, but I was reminded last night, and I am reminded again tonight, that I too am doing the best I can to save him.


  1. how many tombstones, then? Three? Four? Perhaps a special warning for parents?


  2. Yup, sounds like a 4-tombstoner to me. Do you think that your son actually knew about this movie and that it was playing at the mall? I am wondering that as I'm thinking of how many of us are looking for peers in a similar situation to try to gain some understanding, self-identification and direction. This movie sounds rather unique as the protagonists are not the usual cookie-cutter characters.

  3. You know, it wasn't his first choice of film. The one he wanted to see wasn't playing until much later, so it was more by default. Honestly, I think he was just as much surprised as I was. Throughout the movie he was leaning on me, and had his hand on my arm quite often. I also got a kiss on the cheek when I offered him my candy.

    Once we were home I tried to broach the subject of the film with him. He looked at me like I was mad for bringing it up. But, again, minutes later he gave me a hug and kiss goodnight.

    Definitely a 4-Tombstone, with a special warning to parents.

  4. Dan,
    Great post. "losing sight of the fact that my son is also grieving" powerful statement. I too sometimes lose sight of the fact that my husband is grieving the loss of our son as much as I am. Then I see it and hurt for him too.

    I saw this movie last weekend and was impressed with the young people's acting talent. Just as you said, his body language changed as he was going home, very subtle, but I would call that acting :)

    thanks for the post

  5. Dan. No words today. Only tears. I love you x

  6. From WITM - My sons both saw this movie and loved it but didn't mention the fact that that the mom had died. I just asked my youngest, who saw the movie tonight and he acknowledged this part of the story but said it is not a major one. Then he said he won't tell me anymore because I have to see it myself - "It is a great movie."

  7. I think that is what all of us are trying to do in this life--the best we know how. Putting one foot in front of the other and going forward.

  8. I posted a comment back to your comment on my blog, but I think you're more likely to see it here...

    maybe post-anniversary and kid's birthday (the 12th, the 13th) for such a movie. I don't think I can handle it right now! I saw "when do we eat?" last night - no death, just a whole lot of awful family interactions. Planning on green lantern, x-men, and possibly pirates sometime this month. Fingers crossed, few tombstones.