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Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Saw a good children's movie called Big Miracle. The dvd started with previews of children's movies and I despaired about like when the previews are satanic blood lust explosions. Both make me afraid of the movie I'm about to see. Right away I saw when it started it was a made for tv children's film. It had a quality that told me in the beginning it was also a well made film and probably would transcend its categorization. It did. Character development was done minimally and well. The acting was tv family drama, and the story itself was about television as much as it was the whales in the ice hole. It also addressed Greenpeace concerns, one of the characters making a pretty good cliché Greenpeace activist, a strident control freak who sometimes let her vulnerabilities show. The film gave a good sense of the culture clash when self-important people from big city media arrive for a frenzy. No bridge was present between the two cultures. The native people of Barrow, Alaska, the farthest settlement north on our continent, accommodated the city people, made good money feeding and lodging them, a week of hyper-inflation that helped the town with practically no economy make it through another year.

The story is told by a young boy of the local people. At the beginning and end and a few moments in between, his voice is the narrator presenting the story. The boy's story is that he wanted to be a city boy like on tv; his grandpa despaired that the boy listened to Guns-n-Roses and couldn't keep his mind on learning the old ways. The boy sees his grandpa and the other local men turn out and do their part with their knowledge to help free the whales. The local notion of how to solve the matter would have been to kill and eat the whales, a year's worth of food in them, but the whales had become the focus of attention all over the country through tv coverage. Couldn't eat them. The local people applied their knowledge of whales and ice to the full orchestra triumph at the predictable end. It was such a feel-good movie much was forgiven. The bad people were converted and the good people were rewarded. Everybody came out to the good in their careers, got problems solved, a broken romance mended. Greenpeace and oil interest cooperated, rural and city people cooperated, young and old cooperated, masculine and feminine cooperated, and finally with a rush of the musical score, cooperation between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. King Reagan came into the picture in a few scenes and loads of references. "Hello Gorbie, this is Ronnie." Environmentalist Ron to the rescue.
Some of the photography of the whales looking up at them from below were quite beautiful images of swimming whales. They are grace itself. The grace in the film for me was the weaving of everybody's individual stories together into a living tapestry around the hole in the ice where the three whales were breathing. Big Oil came out to save the whales. Even Ronnie and Gorbie came out to save the whales. The Soviet ice breaker ship got the job done. The whales were set free to return to the ocean to head down to Guerrero Negro about half way up the Pacific side of Baja California. They're late, but they'll make it. So many different points of view came together in the telling of the story, all of them around the self-interest of advertising themselves caring, back in 1988 when environmentalism was every bit as ineffectual as it was in 2012 when the film was released. The Big Miracle was a moment in ongoing environmentalism that goes on being defeated by corporate government, a moment when a multitude of self-important parties came together and cheated a community out of three whales that could have fed the entire community through the long winter. Everybody came out a winner in the end. The elder of the local people told the younger ones who wanted to kill the whales that they had better cooperate with this wave of television sentiment over the whales or they, themselves, would be destroyed. The whales served everybody's interest. The local people, Indians, cooperated with the white people and survived the encounter; therefore, were happy.

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