Thursday, 23 January 2014

West is West

A sense of belonging is important to many people.

A sense of identity is important to many people.

A sense of personal history, present and future is important to many. people too.

What happens when any of any of these is either missing or confused?

A lack of clairity abounds, and it is this lack of clarity which is at the heart of the film West is West - a film that follows on from East is East (released in 1999).

In West is West we see the outworking of actions taken some 30 or so years previously. We see a man who has struggled with his own identity but not realised it, and, like all suppressed inner battles, it is lived out in how he treats, reacts to, and engages emotionally with those around him.

George decides to take his son to Pakistan to show him what it is like - to show him his 'heritage'. Sajid, who attends a Salford Secondary School of the mid-70s is being bullied for being a 'Paki' and sees this as being his father's fault. Sajid's father is a 'Paki', but George doesn't see himself as one.  A proud Pakistani (not 'Paki'), he has been in England for many years, married an English woman, and has three sons - all born in England. He has sent the elder two sons over to Pakistan in their turn, but his youngest son he decides to take there himself for four weeks, but they stay longer - much longer.
George discovers the outcome of the decision made to leave thirty years before. Sajid discovers a place in which he is accepted and allowed to be who he is, whatever this might mean. He is able to discvoer and be this rather than conforming to the model his father wants him to be - although, in reality, his father doesn't know what this model should really look like.

There is much to discover in this film: how identity is formed; how the actions we take that appear so right at the time, can have profound consequences on others - causing their lives to be altered unalterably; how living 'decently' can be a masquerade, with the one who is holding up the mask to hide themselves not even realising it.

It's a good film. Go and see it!

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