Monday, June 7, 2010

Learning about Humanity

Yesterday afternoon I pulled out a DVD from my little stash of historical films. I wanted something to view while I ate dinner, something that had been on my mind lately. Sometimes in April is a 2005 HBO movie about the genocide in Rwanda. I’ve already mentioned this flick in two previous blog entries. I’d like to remind readers that I teach courses on the Holocaust and genocide at Hexington College and for this reason such macabre topics preoccupy my dark mind.

To my pleasant surprise, my younger daughters, Jessi and Monika, watched the whole thing with me. The film is not pleasant; in fact it’s downright somber and depressing. There are some intense scenes of violence and an allusion to mass rape. I’ve seen more graphic violence on film, however; and if the rape scene were graphic I wouldn’t even own the DVD. Why my girls decided to watch this film with me is unclear, but I don’t think it has to do with boredom pure and simple. Monika is currently going through the Holocaust in her language arts class. (On a side note, I think the teacher should stick to his discipline and leave this topic for history or social studies.) So I suspect she was keen on the topic of genocide for this reason; to her credit, she made the comment that the teacher ignores these other genocides in recent history.

Jessi’s interest in the film is even more of an enigma to me, as her taste in movies, shall we say, is far from mine, apart from one exception. The exception is psychological thrillers or quality horror films; we both like these genres, it seems. She was familiar with the principal actor of the movie, so that might have drawn her in.  Besides, a good drama will draw her in, and this film is rich in character development, especially regarding the two brothers on which the story hinges. Moreover, I think both of them had heard of the Rwandan genocide and maybe figured that this movie was as good as anytime to learn what really happened. Another makeshift thesis I developed was that they felt obligated to spend time with me because I had brought them pizza and breadsticks for dinner.

Sometimes in April is a dramatic film with a great story and superb acting, but it’s also educational. Every once in a while my kids would ask questions or make comments. That was great. You can learn a lot about humanity in a movie like this one. I must concede that a couple of scenes make me quite emotional. When the best friend of the main character essentially sacrifices himself for his buddy at a roadblock I had a tough time explaining what had just happened, for I was choked up.  So I waited a few minutes to explain what the guy did.  The last thing I want to do is explain a scene from a movie to my kids with tears in my eyes.  Anyway, it was a more enjoyable Sunday afternoon than I had anticipated.