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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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

Oskar (Thomas Horn) lives comfortably with his mother Linda Schell (Sandra Bullock) and dad, Thomas (Tom Hanks), in a upper Manhattan apartment. His grandmother (Zoe Caldwell) lives in the building next door, but Oskar and she can see one another.
 
Oskar is sent home from school on September 11, 2001 but doesn’t know why. He is about to eat a snack when the phone rings. He lets it go to message and realizes it is his dad. He doesn’t answer any of the calls and that night sneaks out to buy a new answering machine and hides the old one. For a 10 year-old kid, Oskar is brilliant and resourceful. And, as he tells us in the extensive voice-over narration in the film, he is probably somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum but the results were undetermined.
 
A year later Oskar finds a key in a envelope hidden in a blue vase on a shelf in his father’s closet. He then starts on a journey of discovery and vows to never stop searching for the answer. After all, his dad always had him searching for Manhattan’s sixth borough and Oskar was always looking for clues.
 
For some,  “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, based on the 2005 novel by Jonathan S. Foer, and directed by Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliott”, “The Hours”, “The Reader”), may seem too talkative, too noisy. Oskar is never silent, his hands always busy, and he is always afraid and anxious. He is also heartbroken and lonely.
 
In that brief scene when he enters his father’s closet that his mother has never touched since 9/11, he pulls a jacket or a tie to his face, to take in his father’s scent. I never felt the loss of 9/11 so keenly as in that moment.
 
The film creeps along with Oskar; we are his invisible companions but he knows we are there. The filmmakers are to be commended for letting us in to the inner life of Oskar in credible ways.
 
Oskar makes many discoveries on his mathematically precise journey, and the past emerges to comfort him. He is also surprised by love, and this is what the movie, at its heart, is all about. And if it is about love, it is about hope and faith.
 
I loved it, as hard as it was to experience September 11 through the eyes and life of this child who feels everything so intensely.


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Bernadette Soubirous: Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. 
<p>There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. </p><p>According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. </p><p>Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. </p><p>During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. </p><p>She was canonized in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog In humility, a woman ultimately forgets 
herself; forgets both her shortcomings and accomplishments equally and 
strives to remain empty of self to make room for Jesus, just as Mary 
did.

 
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