Do you know what it means to forgive? What the movie “A beautiful life in the Neighborhood” teaches us about forgiveness

31 08 2020
Susan Kelechi Watson(Lloyd’s wife), Tom Hanks(Roger), Marielle Heller(Director), Matthew Rhys(Lloyd) and Chris Cooper(Dad) attend the Photo Call for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” at Four Seasons Hotel in New York City.

To err is human; to forgive is divine is perhaps the central message of the movie, A beautiful day in the Neighborhood, based on a true-life story of a famous TV icon, Fred Rogers, who inspired and comforted many people with his marvelous stories in his acclaimed children’s TV series which ran from 1968 till 2002 . In the opening lines of the movie, Mr. Rogers (Hanks) asks, “Do you know what it means to forgive? It is a conscious decision we make to release someone from the feeling of anger we have against them,” and he goes on to narrate the story of his encounter with a troubled journalist, Lloyd Vogel who was having a hard time forgiving his father who had abandoned his mother for another woman while she was dying of cancer. One night, at a party, Lloyd anger boils over and he punched his dad in the face and things turned ugly. Luckily, Lloyd meets Rogers when his editor sent him to Rogers’s studio to interview him for an article.

As he enters, Rogers walks off the stage, camera rolling and all, and greets him, introducing him to the rest of the crew. After the shooting, they sit down and talk and Lloyd discovers that Rogers had a great love for people, and the genuine concern he saw in Rogers eyes when he told him about his fights with his father profoundly affects him and perhaps for the first time, Lloyd gets insight into Rogers’s pleasant personality.

 When he asks Rogers if he had burdens and how he deals with them. Rogers admitted that like every one, he too has burdens but that he tries deal with them without taking it out on others. For instance, if he was having a bad day,  he would swim as hard as he can, or even bang out a single note on the piano keys, but more important he had learnt to accept people they way they are.

Rogers made Lloyd understand that these virtues were what made him attractive to many people because his message uplifts them and they felt understood and loved, and therefore many open their hearts to him.

“He is the nicest man I have ever met,” Lloyd announced to his wife, Andrea when he returned home.

When Lloyd met Rogers’s wife, he could not but blurt out the question that was topmost in his mind. “How does it feel to share the same house as a living saint,” he asked her. To which she replied with a sincere smile, “Roger is not perfect, he has his flaws, but he is always striving to overcome them.”  “Furthermore,” Roger wife adds, “he prays for people he meets by name every day.”

Her answer is similar to what saint Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei, used to repeat so often, that a saint is not a person who has no defect but one who continually struggles to overcome them with the grace of God and by forgetting himself and concerning himself with the problems of other people.

Rogers’s affection finally helps Lloyd deal with his anger and make up with his father after a final row in his apartment precipitated his father’s heart attack and his father was rushed to the hospital. This marked the turning point for Lloyd who healed by Rogers’s words and examples returned repentant and apologized to his wife and firmly determined to patched things with his dad who was dying..

In the end the healing process was completed when dad and son shared a glass of sherry, his dad assured him that he had always loved him. “I love you too dad” he replied bringing tears to the old man’s eyes. This reconciliation reunites the entire family, and Lloyd sister comes in to share the moment. Lloyd’s dad died a few days later after meeting Rogers who helped him overcome death fears by asking for his prayers. Lloyd became a more caring person, even to his wife, offering to stay home and take care of baby so his wife could get back to work.

A beautiful day in the Neighborhood was a successful movie that made a stunning $42.8 million at the box office profit  and Times Magazines voted it the best film of 2019; in contrast, the sex themed Hologram for the King (2016), made a $23.2 million loss.

With its good humor, family, and children friendly entertainment, this movie proves to be timely in an industry fast normalizing hard core on-screen sex and foul language.  I hope that its success sends right message to Hollywood producers and encourage them to produce more movies like it, and thus contribute in making a better world.





Why is Hollywood is obsessed with sex?: The movie “Hologram for the King” should have been about other things

25 06 2020

To begin, I recently watched an old movie called “Hologram for the King.” In the movie, a mid-aged man (Tom Hanks) traveled to Saudi Arabia to pitch a proposal for a hologram to the oil rich king of Saudi Arabia. On arrival, he discovers to his astonishment that things were not what he expected. Apart from having to deal with the heat and the dust, the culture clash left him reeling, and to make matters worse, he had no clue when the king who is traveling all over the world was going to show up for the meeting. The king’s cousin who was in charge during his absence was equally elusive. To add, he had to deal with a mysterious lump on his back, which he attempted to explore with a kitchen knife causing enough bleeding for his friend and driver, Kareem, to convince him to see a doctor.
At the hospital, he encounters a middle-aged Saudi woman- doctor and of course, they fall in love and begin a secret escapade. Finally, Hanks abandons his wife and daughter in America and settles down in Saudi Arabia with his newfound love.
It is striking how quickly an apparently solid story rumples down to sex and animal attraction between two mid aged people.
I wonder why they did not call it “The sex life of a mid-aged couple.” It is a pity that in the entire length of the movie, the king, and the hologram appeared only for a few flickering seconds.
Why is sex, divorce, and marital infidelity so important a theme in Hollywood films?
Hanks ditches a daughter who loves him dearly. He ditches friends, family, and relatives—chuck all out to live in Saudi Arabia with a woman he barely knows and whose culture and life would be burdensome. With any luck, right thinking people would know that this is widely unrealistic and any man that does that deserves a movie made about him even less.
It is not very hard to imagine a better ending for this movie. Hanks, if he were a real man, would have realized immediately that relationship with this Saudi woman would be self-defeating. That it would end up hurting him and the people he loves. It should have hit him like ice water that a life’s commitments he has with his wife and daughter is invaluable and should not be traded for quick fixes and, moreover, in a few years, he would be old and wrinkled and she even more, since science says women age much faster than men do. If Hanks were a real man, he would have thought through and walked away from that short-lived pleasure. That would have been a better ending.

by
Chinwuba Iyizoba








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