Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rabbit Hole & Death of Children Movies

Rabbit Hole is a new movie coming out for an award season run before the end of the year staring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. The film is based off the 2007 Pulitzer prize and Tony Award winning play, and there release schedule surely indicates hope for similar Academy Award success.

The film deals with parents grieving the death of their child, both in different ways.

Now, it seems to me, that this film theme is far from original. In fact, off hand, I can think of a handful of films that deal largely with this same theme.

It makes me wonder, why this theme keeps getting touched on through film. You know it's not for the entertainment value. And yet, it seems like a sure fire emotional discussion of an issue that's hard for people to wrap their brains around. Which lead to challenging scenes like the one in the preview below where Nicole Kidman's character (Becca Corbett) responds harshly to another mother in a group therapy session who is attributing her child's death to God's desire to have another little angel.

These are powerful scenes, even if they've been done before in different ways and with slightly modified scenarios. They're just not original, and I'm always surprised year after year to see another one of these films coming out.

Below is a list of films that I have thought of that have dealt with this very topic, particularly reflecting on how parents handle the situation differently.

Dramatic Films That Deal With The Death of Children
The Sweet Hereafter (1997; many of the kids in the town die on a school bus and the parents and town are encouraged to file a class action lawsuit)

In the Valley of Elah (2007; a father searches out the truth behind the death of his military son while he and his wife figure out how to cope)

Babel (2006; the death of Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt's characters infant child and they escape to Morocco to grieve)

Reservation Road (2007; Mark Ruffolo accidentally kills a boy in a hit and run. He keeps it a secret while the parents of the child grieve in different ways)

A Map of the World (1999, The child of a woman's friend dies on her property and people turn against her and charge her with child abuse)

In The Bedroom (2001, A parent's son is killed, but continue to struggle in different ways when the killer is released on bail).

Ordinary People (1980, A family grieves after the death of the eldest son)


Okie said...

I have a love/hate relationship with these kinds of stories and movies.

Generally speaking I enjoy them (which my wife says makes me a bit of a sadist).

I definitely don't relish the pain or anguish they portray but when these stories are done right, the powerful emotions they evoke are just so wonderful. It's horrible to think of something like this ever happening. But the sad truth is that things like this happen all the time.

As a parent and husband, I never want to have to deal with the loss of a close loved one (wife or children), but death is part of mortality.

Sometimes these movies come off as they're trying too hard to pull the heart strings.

But when done with a proper degree of decorum, I find these stories powerful and somehow cathartic to me...even though I haven't had to deal with this kind of tragedy, the films draw me in and make me feel somehow better when thinking of the inevitable.

That said, I hope to outlive my children and hope that my wife and I die peacefully in old age. I certainly do not hope for any tragedy in our lives that would be worthy of the big screen.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could see this movie right now.I lost my son four years ago to cancer he was only 11 years old. Sometimes these movies help me let out my pain.