494: Review of New Film, “The Window” —New Insight into Spirituality of Aging

The Window Film Movement Carlos Sorin 1 What is a “faith
leader”? That’s our theme this week. (Scroll down for “quick links” to read more on this timely theme.)
    Among the most influential “faith leaders” these days are artists and filmmakers—a group including Argentina’s writer-director Carlos Sorin. His film, “The
Window,” is newly released this month by Film Movement. (The photos today are from his beautiful and stirring movie.)
   
“The Window” explores a theme we’ve lifted up repeatedly here at
ReadTheSpirit: the spiritual gifts of aging. Most men and women in the
United States are terrified of aging and regard it as a problem to be
avoided at all costs. Since America itself is aging as a population,
that’s not going to happen. At ReadTheSpirit, we’ve been calling on writers, filmmakers
and other creative folks to help us explore the “gifts” that come with
aging—trying to turn this “problem” inside out.

The Window Film Movement Carlos Sorin 2     Today, we can recommend this wonderful 2008 movie written and
directed by Sorin, who is in his mid-60s himself. In creating “The
Window,” he envisions a day in the life of an 80-year-old man, named
Antonio. We don’t know much about Antonio, except that he lives alone
with a handful of servants in a grand old house in Patagonia. It’s a
home and a landscape that resembles, perhaps, a ranch in the American
Great Plains.
    The entire 77-minute film takes place in a single
day. It’s a day Antonio fondly anticipates because his middle-aged son,
now a concert pianist, is returning home for a rare visit. We learn
that the two have grown apart over the years, so Antonio wants
everything to unfold perfectly in this long-awaited reunion. He has even
saved a special bottle of Champagne for a homecoming toast.
    But,
here’s the strange “gift of aging” that Antonio discovers: Memories
resurface. In his case, the emotion of the homecoming day surfaces a
fond memory from childhood—a memory of a first crush on a girl. Antonio
has been suffering from such ill health that he has been confined to
bed for some time, including an IV tube attached to his arm. But
something stirs within him on this special day.
    This film
literally and spiritually is about “tuning up” our lives. Antonio thinks that his son may want to play the old Steinway in the
family home, so he hires a piano tuner to get the instrument ready for the visit. Then, the
old man wants his best jacket cleaned and pressed for the occasion. Next, he
wants the servants to bring out the best jam for a snack. On and on, Antonio
plans.
    However, unexpected things keep popping up throughout this day—like this memory of his own
first crush unexpectedly resurfacing. Next, the piano tuner discovers that one problem with the
beat-up old Steinway is that a couple of tiny toy soldiers have fallen into
the strings. He places them carefully on a shelf in the living room, the first time they’ve surfaced in years.
   
Some of what resurfaces is not pleasant, of course. For example, Antonio
suddenly is sure that someone has stolen some money he has saved—an
all-too-common source of argument with frail-elderly men and women who
have lost touch with their own household management.
    “The Window” unfolds like a musical composition toward two extended sequences that are stunning in their simplicity and their power.
   
In the first, old Antonio becomes so energized that he slips
out of his own house for the first time in a very long time—and decides to
walk among his gardens and fields once again. There is virtually no
dialogue in this sequence, yet you’re not likely to stir a muscle during this 10
minutes.
    In the second sequence, the son
actually arrives. At first, it appears that the son’s cold
indifference to his father and his home will turn this homecoming into
a disaster. I won’t spoil the film with further details, but there’s a
whole lot of discussion possible among viewers simply focusing on these
final scenes with the son.
    What does this final encounter really mean? Is the son as callous as
he appears? What happens to this family in this long-awaited encounter?
Is it possible for reconciliation to happen, even in the final phase of
life?

    The good news here is that artists like Sorin continue to create such spiritually enriching works.
   
The bad news is that there are fewer places to find such gems—and there are fewer
ways to learn about them with the implosion of traditional news media
and cutbacks at many stores that once carried unusual DVDs and
books.
    Please, consider ordering a copy of “The Window.” Click on the Amazon link with today’s story. Or, visit the Film Movement site to learn more about the company that distributes such gems from international cinema.

CARE TO READ MORE?

    MISSY BUCHANAN and SPIRITUALITY of AGING: She’s
one of the true pioneers in this growing niche of inspirational
writing. Based in Texas, Missy encourages new forms of ministry with
elderly men and women who have lost much of their mobility. Here’s one story about Missy Buchanan’s work, which includes samples from her first book. Then, here’s a second popular story: Missy Buchanan’s 10 Tips for Ministry, celebrating the gifts of men and women even as they move through the final years of life.
    WHAT IS A FAITH LEADER? Internationally known artist Nancy Thayer writes a 5-part series on the ingredients that make a “faith leader.”
    WOODSTOCK to WOMEN’S GROUPS: Two other stories on this theme are a spiritual retrospective on Woodstock, a major influence on Baby Boomers’ lives, and a profile of a stay-at-home Mom who became the senior pastor of a landmark church.

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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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