Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kawasaki’s Rose

Kawasaki’s Rose is a complex origami flower and this film is about peeling back layers in an effort to get at the truth underneath, and raises questions about truth, memory, how much people are culpable for their behaviour under stress and are myths more valuable than the truth?

The film follows a TV film crew as it films a Czech psychiatrist, Pavel Josek, who is going to be awarded an honour in recognition of his role as a dissident under the Communist regime. By coincidence the sound engineer is Pavel's son-in-law, who feels rejected by Pavel. As the TV crew researches Pavel they discover something that changes the direction of their TV show. (If you are keen on plot spoilers look here or IMDB).

This is a film that asks some tough questions that are relevant to many countries that have undergone trauma in the 20th Century. On a domestic level is it worth wrecking a family by exposing the skeleton in the closet? On a national level is the need for heroes worth suppressing the truth for? Who gets to decide what the collective memory is?

Because the number of characters is small (5 in Pavel's family) and 3 or 4 others, and because the secret is more personal than political the film is intimate and understandable. While the film does a good job of explaining the methods used by secret police to put pressure on people. Unfortunately it doesn't adequately explain why governments would want a relatively unimportant individual to either capitulate so entirely or leave the country with no middle ground possible. I guess this is probably more understandable to Czechs than Kiwis. This minor issue aside this was an absorbing movie either as domestic drama or as a political/philosophical dilemma.

I was interested to learn that the Czech Communist Government regarded exile to "the West" as a form of punishment. Which is quite different to the attitude of the Soviet government!

Ian's rating 3.5/5
Anne's rating 2.5/5

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