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“The Band’s Visit”

I saw a masterpiece last night: “The Band’s Visit,” an exquisite, haunting movie.  The characters stayed with me through the night – I kept seeing their faces and revisiting scenes from the film, tiny scenes that in retrospect are much deeper.  On the surface a small Israeli film with a small folksy subject – an Egyptian police band arrive in the wrong Israeli town – it is a profound meditation on the moments that bring human beings together or keep them apart, the mutual needs of men and women, the transcendent power of music.  And, not least, on the fundamental similarities between Arabs and Israelis.  It also manages to be wry and funny.  

On my way home in the dark and cold, I arrived at Parliament Street to hear an almost inhuman howling.  Frances is a controversial figure in the neighbourhood; she is both physically and mentally handicapped, and yet she somehow survives by constant begging.  She has a vocal disability that makes her voice piercing and horribly annoying.  Though Cabbagetown businesses have been agitating to get rid of her, this is her street as much as anyone else’s.  
Last night, sitting on the ground outside the closed hardware store, she was screaming  at the world.  She filled the air with a primal sound of anger and pain.  And I, my soul uplifted by the movie, filled with elevated thoughts of our common humanity, scurried by as fast as possible on the other side of the street.  
Safely home in my nice warm house, I thought, what is a great movie, a great piece of art for, if not to open us wide to being better human beings and citizens?  What would it have cost me to cross the street, stop, and give the terrifying Frances $10 for a hot bowl of soup? 



13 Responses to ““The Band’s Visit””

  1. Thanks for putting a name to this woman.
    I live in the neighbourhood and it has taken me a long time to look at her as anything beyond frightening.
    I once saw her ecstatic and so thankful for a $5 bill someone gave her. She said she was going to buy fish and chips.

  2. beth says:

    Kathyo, she IS frightening – I don’t like the cliched expression “in your face” but it’s right for her – Frances is in the neighbourhood’s face, literally and figuratively. I’m glad she’s there. My Cabbagetown includes Frances.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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