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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Hedgehog (Le hérisson)

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

At an upscale apartment house with five luxury flats in Paris, Renee sweeps the sidewalk and picks up litter, takes out the trash bins, keeps the vestibule tidy, arranges for maintenance, and delivers parcels. A widow who was unable to have children, Renee looks dowdy and seldom smiles. When her day is done, she hides away in an inner room lined with books. (Please see the Internet Movie Database for the complete list of cast and crew http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1442519/)
 
A new resident moves in, Kakuro Ozu. He is a handsome man of mature age, a widower, who recognizes that he and the custodian share a love of classical literature. Kakuro invites Renee to dinner in his apartment and her friend borrows a dress for her. He then invites her out to dinner. She refuses, then accepts. Kakuro senses her desire to She gets her hair done for the first time in her life.
 
The character that ties the story together is the 12-year old, Paloma (the name means “dove”) who is in the midst of resolving the existential crisis of meaning about her. She is highly intelligent and planning her suicide on her birthday. As she observes her mother living on pharmaceuticals, her sister Columba’s superficial life on track to follow her mother’s vacuous existence (Columba means “pigeon”), and her wealthy father’s cluelessness about his wife and children, she notices Renee.
 
Paloma video tapes everything around her, a cinematic device we saw this summer with the sci-fi thriller “Super 8”. She’s the one who “sees” Renee and Renee sees Paloma right back.
 
The tensions are set between Renee and Kakuro, Renee and her friend who finds the dress for her, Renee and a homeless man, and Paloma against the world. Throughout the film she is wearing stripes and it made me think that perhaps it was her telling everyone that she is in a prison.
 
I felt that I had seen fine literature come to life with this film that takes place almost entirely  in an apartment building. Indeed the story is based on the critically acclaimed French novel “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery.
 
At the end, as I watched the credits, I thought: this is why we love cinema.
 
In French with English subtitles.




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Joachim and Anne: In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names <i>Joachim</i> and <i>Anne</i> come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died. 
<p>The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people. </p><p>The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past. </p><p>Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.</p> American Catholic Blog My hope is that my children reach beyond me in character. I don’t want to be their moral ceiling. That makes me responsible to guide and discipline them in directions I don’t always follow. And above all, to show them mercy for their human frailty, as I ask them to show me that same mercy for mine.

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