Do you remember what it was like to be a kid?
It's possible you recall bits and pieces, key moments, and stories you've heard retold. Do you remember what the world seems like from that angle?
You certainly will after you watch Kenneth Branagh's Belfast. It's a journey back in time to Northern Ireland in the late 1960s just as troubles broke out and a multi-decade conflict began in the region.
But Belfast isn't about that deeply complex and layered struggle. It's about one boy and one family. And in that simplicity and focus, it actually becomes relevant to all of us.
Branagh wrote Belfast while in quarantine. He said he felt the story was always there and he eventually needed to revisit his experience, and tell it. It is very much his own story, and I jokingly called it "portrait of a filmmaker as a young man" because the knowledge we all have watching is that this boy will become Kenneth Branagh, prolific performer, filmmaker, and creative voice.
But again, the story is just focused on how the world looks and feels from that angle. Cherished memories are mingled with beloved movie scenes to create a version of the past that may not be factually accurate (just ask the Branagh siblings) but it is emotionally accurate.
I was struck by how the movie reminded me to see the world through my own children's eyes. The last two years have been a challenge on all of us, but children will one day view it, perhaps, much the way Branagh views the period depicted in Belfast. The film made me, I believe, a better and more compassionate parent.
Whatever our parents go through, we look to them for guidance. Not what they say, but how they act and how they respond.
There is a lesson in treating other human beings with dignity and respect that is core to this story, and core to what the boy learns from his parents.
And it's also core to who Branagh is. I've known, worked with, and spoken to countless people with great successes in this field. If anyone has a right to put on airs and display and act of superiority it would be Branagh. But he's the exact opposite. Full of humility, kindness, and passion for life and his field.
There is a lesson in that, too.
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This episode of The No Film School Podcast was produced by George Edelman.