Saturday, December 25, 2010

In Which Christmas is... Postponed

My husband was sick last week, and my son and I are both sick this week. I've determined that it's one of the hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola or the Plague. (Yes, I'm one of the people that subscribe to the theory that the Black Death was a hemorrhagic fever.) Most likely, it's Ebola mixed with the common cold. ("Which never happened, because that would be wrong." Bonus points to the person that can name the TV show that quote is from.)

Given that fact, my extended family has decided to postpone Christmas until next week, when we'll hopefully be feeling better.

So, to keep a little Christmas spirit in my heart last night, I watched "Next of Kin", a movie about traditional family values. (hehehe) It has Liam Neeson in it, so it can't be all bad! If you've never seen it, it's about two hillbilly brothers (one of whom is now a cop in Chicago) who set out to avenge the mob killing of their brother. I actually love this movie for its use of... I can't think of the word right now (see the Ebola paragraph above), but it has these great little authentic feeling anthropological moments in it.

When the (now) city brother (Patrick Swayze) and his wife (Helen Hunt) take the body of his younger brother back to the hills, he sees his family waiting at the end of the train station. He asks her to wait for him, because "they don't take easily to strangers". "But I'm your wife!" she protests. "No honey, not you. Me." In those few words, he lets her know that he's been away long enough that he is now a stranger to these people.

When he walks to the end of the platform, he greets each person by name and relation. Uncle Billy, Cousin Henry, etc. In that moment, he establishes that he's still one of them. He remembers their names, and how he is related to each of them. In a culture that (in the movie, anyway) that values family above everything else, this is an important scene.

Later, during the wake, the women are in the kitchen doing food stuff. The city wife is feeling out of place and after knocking a bunch of silverware to the floor (and all the other women just silently watch her), she is about to leave. The country brother (Liam Neeson) walks in and in two steps, connects her to the family. First, he gives her his cup of coffee to refill. Second, he thanks her for being kind to his dead brother and taking care of him while he was in the city. After that, the other women are more accepting of her.

These two scenes really make the movie for me. There are a couple of other scenes about the culture clashes between the hill people and the city people, but these are my favorites because they are subtle and there is no exposition about it. It's the kind of thing that I want to do in my writing. It's the kind of thing that I try to use my anthropological training in, so it wasn't a total waste. Writing and watching Next of Kin :)


  1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope you and yours are all recovered and feeling better now :) I think I'll have to go hunt for that movie, those are all actors I like *grin*

    The Arrival, on Amazon NOW!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi today. Have a healthy and wealthy New Year!


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