Big Heart Full of Sacred Force

The loss of Robin Williams leaves a great void. Of a few artists, it can be said they are both truly unique and also gifted with an ability to reach virtually any human being through their work. He was one of these. He had an unbelievable ability to make you pay attention, to watch him just be; he seemed to wear his thoughts like an aura of light and haze. He dazzled with life, and when he became quiet, he could break your heart with just a syllable, a word, a whisper.

When I heard Robin Williams had died, it hit me with a shocking amount of force. I was not ready for that, nor had I ever thought about what it would feel like. I realize now it had never occurred to me that this comic genius would leave us. Friedrich Nietzsche explained that the origin of comedy was in our fear of mortality. Because without the benefits of civilization we were once so vulnerable, surprise tends to carry with it a moment of terror. When the surprise comes, and nothing happens except curious quip, or something funny and unexpected unfolds before our eyes, someone is playing the clown, it unleashes a wave of sudden good feeling.

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‘Caramel’ in the Context of Cultural Understanding

The lush, emotional fabric of Nadine Labaki’s Caramel consistently hints at how our common humanity is nested in the strains and particulars of the everyday. Seen by some as not culturally expansive enough, not ‘Arabic’ enough, for not dealing directly with traditional cultural motifs or broader political problems, the film’s intimate approach to the humanity of its characters is itself a vital comment on the nature of the human experience.

Caramel is a film about women and about Lebanon, but it is not strictly or exclusively that; there is something that goes more directly to the core of what makes any of us what we are. Longing, and the problem of how to reach out for what makes us feel, without betraying our surroundings or ourselves, is central to the story Labaki tells in Caramel.

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