Our task today (and every day) is not to forget. Not to forget so that all those lives lost forever will make sense. For us if not for themselves. But how can we make sense of things that don't even make sense?
This is what Oskar wonders after his father died, killed in the attack to the Twin Towers on September 11, 2011.

Oskar Schell is only 9 years old. He is the protagonist of a 2005 novel by Jonathan Safrar Foer adapted for the screen in 2012: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I saw the movie last week on satellite TV and I was happy I was alone at home because I was so emotional, touched , moved that I would have felt uncomfortable at being in a theatre surrounded by strangers. I loved this movie. I can't tell you much about the book it is based on, but it is certainly a good movie.

The main theme is traumaOskar (Thomas Horn)  has a simultaneous death wish (he hurts himself) and extreme need for self-preservation (his phobias and panic attacks). Oskar's journey "in search of  his father" (Tom Hanks) does not help him get over his traumatic experience but it helps him to build a new relationship with his mother (Sandra Bullock), for instance. In his journey throughout New York City  in order to discover what the key he found in his father's closet opens, looking for a guy named Black who might be related to the mysterious key, Oskar  has to face and overcome all his fears, happens to meet  people with complicated lives and big troubles, has to grow up until the final realization: he can't make sense of the things that don't make any sense, but  he can go on living preserving his father's memory and be a better man thanks to that. 


Oskar Schell: I had to tell someone. I couldn't keep it a secret anymore.
Oskar Schell: Can I tell you my story?
The Renter: [the renter shows his hand that says 'yes' on it]

Oskar Schell: My father died at 9-11. After he died I wouldn't go into his room for a year because it was too hard and it made me want to cry. But one day, I put on heavy boots and went in his room anyway. I miss doing taekwondo with him because it always made me laugh. When I went into his closet, where his clothes and stuff were, I reached up to get his old camera. It spun around and dropped about a hundred stairs, and I broke a blue vase! Inside was a key in an envelope with black written on it and I knew that dad left something somewhere for me that the key opened and I had to find. So I take it to Walt, the locksmith. I give it to Stan, the doorman, who tells me keys can open anything. He gave me the phone book for all the five boroughs. I count there are 472 people with the last name black. There are 216 addresses. Some of the blacks live together, obviously. I calculated that if I go to 2 every Saturday plus holidays, minus my hamlet school plays, my minerals, coins, and comic convention, it's going to take me 3 years to go through all of them. But that's what I'm going to do! Go to every single person named black and find out what the key fits and see what dad needed me to find. I made the very best possible plan but using the last four digits of each phone number, I divide the people by zones. I had to tell my mother another lie, because she wouldn't understand how I need to go out and find what the key fits and help me make sense of things that don't even make sense like him being killed in the building by people that didn't even know him at all! And I see some people who don't speak English, who are hiding, one black said that she spoke to God. If she spoke to god how come she didn't tell him not to kill her son or not to let people fly planes into buildings and maybe she spoke to a different god than them! And I met a man who was a woman who a man who was a woman all at the same time and he didn't want to get hurt because he/she was scared that she/he was so different. And I still wonder if she/he ever beat up himself, but what does it matter?

Thomas Schell: What would this place be if everyone had the same haircut?

Oskar Schell: And I see Mr. Black who hasn't heard a sound in 24 years which I can understand because I miss dad's voice that much. Like when he would say, "are you up yet?" or...

Thomas Schell: Let's go do something.

Oskar Schell: And I see the twin brothers who paint together and there's a shed that has to be clue, but it's just a shed! Another black drew the same drawing of the same person over and over and over again! Forest black, the doorman, was a school teacher in Russia but now says his brain is dying! Seamus black who has a coin collection, but doesn't have enough money to eat everyday! You see olive black was a gate guard but didn't have the key to it which makes him feel like he's looking at a brick wall. And I feel like I'm looking at a brick wall because I tried the key in 148 different places, but the key didn't fit. And open anything it hasn't that dad needed me to find so I know that without him everything is going to be alright.

Thomas Schell: Let's leave it there then.

Oskar Schell: And I still feel scared every time I go into a strange place. I'm so scared I have to hold myself around my waist or I think I'll just break all apart! But I never forget what I heard him tell mom about the sixth borough. That if things were easy to find...

Thomas Schell: ...they wouldn't be worth finding.

Oskar Schell: And I'm so scared every time I leave home. Every time I hear a door open. And I don't know a single thing that I didn't know when I started! It's these times I miss my dad more than ever even if this whole thing is to stop missing him at all! It hurts too much. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll do something very bad.


lunarossa said...

The book is wonderful. I'm not sure I can manage to watch the film. Glad you liked it though. A.xx

Maria Grazia said...

The movie is very beautiful. I'm happy I saw it. It stayed with me for a while. It is impossible to watch it without being touched. I'm not going to read the book, though.
Thanks for your comment, A.
Hugs & kisses X

Alexa Adams said...

I loved this book, but I haven't seen the movie. I have seen the film version of Everything is Illuminated, Safrar Foer's first book, both of which are fabulous. I love this author, and I will see this film, but not today. It is my sister's birthday today , and I usually try not to dwell on the tragedy that occurred the day she turned 10 years old on its anniversary. The scar is still so raw, and the effects are all too apparent every other day of the year to ever be in danger of forgetting, but this story captures that trauma better than any other artistic endeavor that I have encountered. Very timely post, Maria. Thank you.

Maria Grazia said...

Thanks for your comment, Alexa, and for sharing your memory of that shocking day. We all have printed in our mind the images of what we were doing when we heard of the attacks and were speechless in front of those images. I remember I was completely alone at home because my husband and children were on holidays at the seaside with my mother-in-law, while I had to stay at home because I was working. I so wanted to be with them in that moment and I started crying for what was happening and for their being so distant ...
I will never forget those feelings.

JaneGS said...

I loved the movie, and am looking forward to reading the book. The loss this boy feels, and the love his mother demonstrates for him in enabling him to live through it is tremendous.

Maria Grazia said...

Well, JaneGS, you're right. This movie is very good and "tremendously" beautiful. I love it too, so much that today it was on again on one of the satellite channels and I saw the second half again, while having lunch alone after school.