ROAD MOVIES rank among the most beloved films worldwide and that’s been true for a century! Some of the biggest hits in the silent era were road movies. Then, in 1934, Clark Gable, Claudet Colbert and Frank Capra swept the five top Oscars at the Academy Awards with “It Happened One Night.” To this day, road movies like “The Hangover,” still yield boxoffice gold. So, this week’s new-to-DVD The Human Resources Manager already has that beloved genre going for it. The barrier between this eye-opening and heart-warming comedy—and most American living rooms—is the film’s subtitles. Some of the movie is in English, but parts of it are in Hebrew and Romanian with English subtitles.
Why should we see
The Human Resources Manager?
If you care about encouraging not only world peace, but the reunion of families in our tragically disconnected world—then you’ll love this story of a sad-sack Israeli bureaucrat who is forced to learn about an employee who suddenly winds up dead. As it turns out, in a plot right out of The Office, this woman dies and almost no one at the huge commecial bakery where she worked can even remember her. An investigative reporter turns this story into a front-page appeal for corporate compassion. The poor human resources manager is assigned to carry her coffin home for burial—to a remote area in the Transylvanian mountains.
The film is based on a celebrated novel A Woman in Jerusalem, by Israeli novelist A. B. Yehoshua who for years has been part of the Israeli peace movement. However, neither the novel nor the movie are about Israel’s precarious political situation in the Middle East. This is a purely human tale of a bureaucrat who must bring an unknown woman back to life—at least enough to find her home in rural Romania and get her coffin to her family for a funeral.
It’s a terrific film for small-group discussion, raising all sorts of questions:
How do people define “home” today?
Neither the human resources manager, nor the dead woman, nor her relatives in Romania define the term in ways you will guess, before seeing the film.
Can universal spiritual experiences, like mourning, cross our religious boundaries?
The dutiful manager is an Israeli Jew, but the dead woman’s clan is old-school Romanian Orthodox—making this one of the hardest walls in the world to leap.
Is there hope for reuniting disintegrated families?
This is pure fiction, of course, but the novel and the movie make a persuasive argument that there might be hope for even the most disastrously fragmented families.
NOTE TO READERS: In addition to general releases on DVD like the new Human Resources Manager, Film Movement also has a movie-of-the-month club featuring top picks from among international releases.
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.