Child, truly the father of man

American Jeff Nichols in his Midnight Special has conceived a chase cum sci-fi movie with action thriller elements thrown in. The film revolves around a small boy with extraordinary powers to access and reveal highly confidential information transmitted by spy satellites.

He is born in a religious cult whose pastor quickly adopts him as his own. The confidential information dished out in strange languages by the child forms the crux of the pastor’s addresses to the community. The child is an invaluable asset to the cult but he is sick and his father decides to get him medical attention. The only way to do this is to kidnap the child from the cult premises with the help of his trooper friend. While they are on the run with the child through highways and dirt tracks, intelligence leaks bring in FBI and NSA into the picture as well. Now, the child gets chased by not just the cult but also government agencies.

But his supernatural powers are so strong that he can blast the satellites in space to smithereens with his blazing eyes. In fact, it is the child who takes full control of the destination and the parents simply obey him through the journey.

Talking about the film and his main character, Alton, he said, “In one way that’s a metaphor for the fact that our kids are going to be who they are and we just have to have faith and let them go.”

In a larger sense, this is about belief in something you don’t understand.” Isn’t the experience of watching a film an exercise in willing suspension of disbelief?

Lee Tamahori’s Maori film, The Patriarch, is set in New Zealand and revolves around a boy, Simeon Mahana, who is more rooted and real. He is honest and straightforward, to the extent of asking the judge, “Your honour, if Maoris’ cannot speak in their language in court, how can they defend themselves?”

Hard working, sharp witted and intelligent, he takes on the responsibility to reunite two feuding patriarchal sheep-rearing families. For this, if he has to challenge his overbearing grandfather, so be it. If he and his other family members have to undergo hardship and suffering, it is worth it. Ultimately, Mahana manages to uncover the secret behind the feud and a solution is achieved only at the funeral of the grandfather.

The simple yet beautifully narrated film talks of family values and work culture. As the producer of the film said, “To me, the film is about love at all different levels: strict love, paternal love… and the power that love has to overturn circumstances for the better.”


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