Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Protagonist

I saw a remarkable documentary film not long ago called The Protaganist, directed by Jessica Yu. The film interweaves the stories of four unrelated men who have been consumed by their personal journeys. The men: a former German terrorist, an "ex-gay" evangelist, a bank robber and a martial arts expert.

From The Protagonist website.

But as their stories unfold, one starts to see the parallels between the uncommon, common experience of these four men. Each character embarks on a journey for valid reasons, only to find himself so deeply embedded in the cause that he becomes the opposite of what he had intended. He is blind to this fact, though, until the forces of fate and character boil and distill to a single moment of dark epiphany. In telling this echoing story, the film asks: what is the path to extremism? In responding to the turmoil of life, where does one draw the line between the reasonable and the unreasonable? And how does one recover from the delusion of certainty?

In addition, the film is based on the works of Euripides and the film uses quotes from his plays as chapter headings. Yu also uses wooden rod puppets- pictured here- to stage both excerpts from Euripides and scenes from the four men's past. The puppetry is really amazing and adds a layer to the film that would not otherwise be there.

Jessica Yu won an Oscar in 1997 for her short documentary, Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien, who lived for decades in an iron lung after being paralyzed by polio. She has directed other award winning documentaries and in the small world isn't it category, a former student and regular reader of this page, has worked with her and says only good things.

Check out The Protaganist it's well worth it.


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