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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

A Separation

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

“A Separation” won an Oscar for Best Picture in a Foreign Language in February. Director Asghar Farhadi has the district honor of being the first Iranian filmmaker to ever receive an Oscar.
 
In modern day Tehran, the capitol if Iran, Nadir and Simin are in court to make Simin’s request for a separation and divorce final (for a complete listing of the cast please see the Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1832382).  The judge is patient and asks easy questions but it is obvious that the couple loves each other and is reluctant to move forward.
 
Simin explains that they filed for  an exit visa years before and when it finally came they had more than 100 days to act on it; but time is running out. Simin says there is no future for them in Iran and the judge becomes a little hostile. Nadir explains that he cannot leave because his father has Alzhiemer’s and needs his son to care for him. Simin and Nadir have an eleven year-old daughter as well. So either Simin will have to leave the country on her own, hopefully with her daughter, Termeh, or the whole family stays.
 
The judge decides there is not enough cause for a divorce. When they arrive home Simin packs her bag and leaves. While it seems like she is leaving for good, she moves back into her parents’ home. Termeh stays with her father and grandfather.
 
Simin, however, through a friend, finds a woman, Raziah, to care for the elderly man. Raziah is very observant but she has not told her husband she is working for one man and caring for another all day. She vacillates between coming to work and letting her husband have the job. When the old man soils himself she calls a religious information line  to ask is she is permitted by law to change him; she is given the go-ahead.
 
Nadir meets Raziah’s husband and he seems nice enough and eager. But things get complicated when he does not show up for work. Raziah comes again with her little daughter. When she is not looking the old man slips out to buy a paper. Raziah is terrified and runs to find him.
 
Nadir comes home early one day to find his father tied to the bed but unconscious on the floor. Raziah is nowhere to be found. When she appears Nadir’s anger overcomes him; he accuses her of stealing cash that he has on hand and then he pushes her out of the apartment and closes the door.
 
The situation becomes very complicated by this, relationships and friendships broken forever by lies. When the characters start to parcel out blame, beginning with Termeh, it is laid at Simin’s feet because none of this would have happened if she did not want to leave Iran.
 
The is a movie about not only a separation between man and wife, but between parent and child, between a family and their country, middle class and poor, and a separation blocking communication and understanding on many levels. Raziah’s extreme fear of making a religious mistake is palpable thus there exists a profound separation, a lack of integration, between a faith lived for love and being observant out of fear. The visuals, doors, windows, partitions are seamlessly included to reinforce the real partitions and to symbolize ones we cannot see.
 
The obvious conclusion that the theocratic government of Iran is ultimately to blame for the chaos that develops in this finely crafted and deeply felt film. The film is an analogy for Iran and other totalitarian governments and the story highlights the cracks that such a government creates in a society and culture.
 
How does it end? Do take the time to see it if it is playing in your area or rent it on DVD when it becomes available. This is a movie with a lot of dialogue but not a word is superfluous.

What would you have done if you were Namir and Simin?


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Jeanne Jugan: 
		<p>Born in northern France during the French Revolution—a time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community's compassionate care of elderly poor people.</p>
		<p>When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children (four died young) alone. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter she joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes (August 19).</p>
		<p>After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor and taught catechism to children. After her friend's death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members and more guests. Mother Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her association—the Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.</p>
		<p>Abbé Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne's reelection as superior in 1843; nine year later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. He was removed from office by the Holy See in 1890. </p>
		<p>By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community's constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009. </p>
		<p> </p>
American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will offer cheerful obedience from our inward joy. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

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