All posts by Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha

Cinephile | Film Maker | Photographer | Student of Life

The Orange Tune – Martin Sommerdag

I have been following Martin’s work since a few years now. And his unique perspective on various subjects never fails to intrigue me. And right from the scripting to the choice of subjects to camera angles and movements and to the final look of the film, everything about his film, “The Orange Tune” made me admire his scope as a filmmaker.

The Orange Tune, is not an extravagant feast. It is minimalist on many fronts. But at the same time, it wears that grungy look with pride.

The opening shot of the film, in which you see a girl dressed in orange coming down from a staircase. The staircase is emerging from a strange source of light. I felt the director wanted to signify birth over here. Then the girl starts performing the same action over and over again. Like playing the same song on repeat. The Filmmaker, purposefully changed his angles making the days look a little different from one another. But we know that as the action performed doesn’t change, all the angles are the same.

David Brower, the narrator captures the eerie tone that the film wanted to create very well. The voice over itself puts you in a pensive state and the visuals do the rest of the job quite well.

If I have to criticize the film a bit, I felt the opening credits are too long. Sometimes the audience might lose interest if nothing exciting happens in the first few seconds of the film. Apart from this minor suggestion, I felt the film did it’s job tremendously well. The job of leaving me with some unanswered questions.

The film is weirdly motivational. At the same time it is dark. There is no silver lining. It feels like the film is a warning to all the viewers to stop listening to the same song again and again and change the channel once in a while. Or maybe it is just an experimental film that tries to pull you out of your comfort zone. I don’t know that. But I don’t want to find out. 🙂

“Life is like an old vinyl record and if you don’t change track or melody once in awhile you will feel trapped and maybe go a little crazy. THE ORANGE TUNE is about the danger of daily routines and how hard it is to break free from once comfort zone.” The film description says. And I believe no matter what you do, your life cannot be a cycle. Even if you’re doing a job that is perceived as interesting by the world, you cannot paint the whole picture of your life in monotone.

Life cannot be a box of set rules and perfect corners. It needs to be a playground.

“Insanity is doing the same thing. Over and over again. And expecting things to change.”

This is one of my favourite quotes from the Far Cry franchise. And it always made me wonder about our day to day lives. We keep doing the same thing over and over again. And yet we believe in the fairy tale that tomorrow will be different. But it rarely happens. Do get something that we haven’t achieved before we need to do something that we have not done before. I have been trying to implement this in my life for a long time. And I think, now is the time to stop procrastinating.

Check out Martin’s previous work over here:

TUNGUSKA DIARIES – A Different Take

The Unknown Bunker – Martin Sommerdag

Nolan, If you’re listening

 

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We have discovered you after your Batman trilogy. Saw the visionary that you are through Inception. Then went back in time and stumbled upon your earlier work that left us with nothing but awe and admiration for what you are. A new age writer-director who speaks through his art.

 

We love you for your collaboration with Hans Zimmer. We love you for the spectacle you create with Wally Pfister. We love each carefully crafted snip and those extra few seconds you let us linger on select shots with Lee Smith. But most importantly we love you for your ability to tell a story.

 

Your Bruce Wayne was not just a masked vigilante. He was a lonely lost man trying to make sense of this dark world. Your Dom Cobb was not just a thief. He was a father trying to get back to his children. Your Will Dormer was not just an insomniac. He was a man torn apart by his morals. You are known to create grey characters. And you are damn good at it. But there’s one more thing you’re even better at. That’s creating your negative characters.

 

I believe your movie is only as good as your Villain. And I think your best movie till date (audience choice) The Dark Knight proves my point completely. Then why have you omitted all that we love about you with your latest venture?

 

Dunkirk – is chaos. It is not self sufficient. It does not have it’s own universe like your other films. And despite having its moments, it fails to move the audience. I couldn’t even remember the names of your few lead characters. Didn’t even see the gruesomeness of war. Didn’t feel how fragile life is. I did not know what to take back from Dunkirk.

 

Do you know J J Abrams – The Director of the new Star Trek franchise? For a really long time his name was synonymous to lens flares. Or Michael Bay for that matter. Do you really want your name to be equated with a gimmick that you keep repeating in all your films – Spectacle?

 

Yes your films are full of them and we enjoy them to the core. But your movies should not be a wild compilation of grand shots. We expect more from you.

 

After The Dark Knight Rises, we felt this is one minor bump in your film making journey. Interstellar was flawed on many levels. But Dunkirk marks something ridiculously unexpected.

 

We appreciate you taking on diverse genres. But you must ask yourself, if you are losing your own unique take on your films. We admire you for the work you have done in the past. But don’t expect your audience to return to the theatres based on your past success.

 

Hoping, something worth watching next time.

Contact – Robert Zemeckis

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When I decide to watch a film, I usually do my homework first. I check out the plot of the film, I watch the trailer and I go through the director’s work. It was a different story when it came to watching Contact.

In last couple of months I have been following American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and his thoughts about the Universe. The man has a very entertaining way of explaining the most difficult scientific theories. In an interview about Interstellar, this guy was asked about his favourite science fiction film. And that’s when I was introduced to Contact. When a person of this caliber assigns this position to a film, it becomes unmissable by default.

So without knowing who directed the film and who wrote the script, I immersed myself, with very high expectations… Waiting to be amazed.

Before you read any further let me tell you that the following is not a review. It is my understanding of various themes the film tries to bring forward.

Relationships:

Arroway loses her mother during her birth and her father at the age of 9. She forgets to keep her father’s medicines in the right place so she thinks of her as the reason of his death. She has all the good reasons to believe that all the people she genuinely loves, leave her. As a young and enigmatic writer Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) steps into her life, she proceeds with caution. She limits her involvement to such an extent that her relationship should never distract her from her primary purpose.

While Arroway has a very practical approach of looking at things, Joss is a spiritual person. Not just in a religious manner but also even in everyday life, he chooses his words very meticulously giving everything a deeper meaning. Joss might be the representation of those who believe in supreme powers beyond our cognition.

Science, politics and faith:

The film very profoundly tells the audience that in order to become an ideal civilization, humanity must accept the common grounds in faith and science. At the same time, faith is not to be confused with organized religion. The film highlights that it is imperative for a man to find his own version of faith and religion while politics is another major hurdle, which prevents humans from being a greater civilization.

Philanthropy:

When the lead character of the film, Eleanor Arroway finds her project in jeopardy due to the extravagant budget it proposes, Hadden Suit, a mysterious investor comes to the rescue. Hadden helps the protagonist more than once in her quest both financially and morally as well. And throughout the film the character has not shown any other interest than helping humanity. Even though the film progresses due to the efforts of Arroway, Hadden’s contribution to decoding the message sent by aliens is unparalleled. However, after Arroway returns from her visit to the exoplanet due to the lack of physical evidence, it is concluded that she never left Earth and the whole incident was a hoax played by Hadden.

Hadden’s story meets a very sad conclusion when all of his efforts are not recognized the way they should. But isn’t that the point of a selfless good deed?

Relationships (Part II)

Stuff changes when Arroway meets the alien. The alien takes a human form and appears as her father replicating several images from her memories. On Earth she finds it impossible to explain her experience to the world. The scientist in her accepts the most logical reason that she never left earth and what she felt was simply a delusion. But somewhere deep inside, she is sure that what she felt was real. She understands that her experience cannot be explained through science but through something else. This spiritual experience makes her believe in the forces, which our knowledge cannot explain right now but someday it will. She has no reasons but she develops a little bit of faith. And from being an atheist she becomes a skeptic.

Robert Zemeckis

I was completely satisfied with the film and I was just waiting for the credits to appear. As I said earlier, I had zero knowledge about the film when I decided to watch it. And I also skipped the opening credits because the first sequence is so awesome. When the first credit appeared and it said Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it was a wonderful surprise. Out of the 7 films of this man I have watched so far, not a single one has disappointed me. So in a way, it was not a surprise that I loved this one.

Where does the film stand?

The film is a science fiction, based on the novel by Carl Sagan. However, if you look from the point of view of Joss, it is a spiritual one. Arroway has that supernatural and vague experience because she needed to have one. Her devotion to find extra terrestrial intelligent life led her to a series of events which were destined only for her to experience and none other.

I had high expectations from Interstellar and it failed me. I felt the science of interstellar was great but the climax was too dumbed down and not scientific. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a brilliant film. But even after several viewings, (just like any other film by Kubrick) I cannot understand the film completely. Contact falls exactly in the middle. It is smart enough to make you think. It is sly at times. And sometimes it just teases you making you doubt. That’s what makes it even more enjoyable.

Confessions of a free bird

People pity the caged bird. People think that the caged bird has limited options to spend his days. People think that all of his days are the same. They are spent in admiring his owner, expecting a small reward in return. And let me tell you, the people are not wrong.

Let me introduce myself. I am a nobody and I am a somebody. I am a free bird. Free Bird. That’s right. It might seem an ordinary thing, but today, in the chaos of a world, it is difficult to spot one of my kind. I fly with my flock but I am not bound to it. I take flight whenever I want and I rest when my wings need to refuel.

It has not been like this always. Flying is not easy. There are so many things that can go wrong. And the world is a big big place for a small bird like me. When I flapped my wings for the first time, I never thought that I would fly an inch above the ground. Of course there were a few old birds who led me to believe that I was no good. And for a split second, I believed them. But I didn’t let that anchor me to the dust. I soared and I soared high. And I see those old birds from up here. I bet it hurts their neck to see how high I am. But the view from here, is beautiful.

The caged bird is pathetic. And he remains so, until I see that shiny sugarcube he gets once a month. Boy that’s looks delicious. The caged bird is not alone. He has a small family too. All of them, happy with the sugarcube they share. Now, even if I roam a thousand miles a day, I can’t find that one by myself.

When I think about it, getting that sugarcube is not that difficult. It involves a simple exchange. I have to give up my freedom and accept the cage for the rest of my life. And in return I get the sugarcube. Once. Every month.

Well, it’s an offer every bird gets. Truly. Each bird gets this choice once. Right after the bird learns to fly. To fly or not to fly. Why do we fly? In simple terms, for food, yes? A caged bird gets his food three times a day. A sugarcube a month. And that too, for not flying. Of course he has to sing and chirp all day long to prove his worthiness. But when I think about it, it’s not bad job actually.

There are some days when I feast on the best delicacies in the world. And on some days even a peanut is hard to come by. On such days, when I look at the caged bird with his family, I can’t help but smile at the irony. I wonder if it would be a wise move to look for a cage for myself. After everything is settled, the sugarcube must taste good.

Oh, I know one thing for sure. Sunsets are beautiful. And the view is different from each place I go. I don’t know if I can commit to the same sunset for the rest of my life. Flying, more than anything reminds me of who I am. There is no joy and there is no sorrow. Flying is a simple reminder of the fact that I am doing what I am supposed to do.

Maybe someday, I will have to settle down for a cage. For now, I am happy with my little empty stomach and this stellar view. There is no better feeling in the world knowing that you can stretch your wings and just fly to find out how far the horizon is stretched. Nothing but stars to cover your head and cold breeze to support your wings. There may or may not be glory in it, but there is freedom.

Let me introduce myself. I am a nobody and I am a somebody. I am a free bird.

The Unknown Bunker – Martin Sommerdag

The film opens with these lines:

During World War 2 Nazi-Germany built over 8000 concrete structures along the Danish west coast. after the war were many bunkers closed down or made public by the Danish Government. There are still many unknown bunkers.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/76406336″>The Unknown Bunker</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/alphahawk”>Alpha Hawk Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

It is said that in a screenplay, your first ten pages define how interesting the rest of the film is going to be. In the world of short films, I think it is just the first ten seconds. And for a person like me, these three lines certainly made it clear that the rest of the film is going to be damn intriguing.

I have been observing lately how important sound is in films. As the film commences the audience is introduced to a menacing soundtrack. It helps you get involved. But listen to it long enough and the conspiracy theories start building up in your head. Exactly what the maker wants you to think.

The film stars Thomas De Hansen and Martin Sommerdag. It must have been really challenging to be in front of the camera and handling the production at the same time. Having a small crew has it’s own benefits. It is difficult to pull off. But the directors who can manage it, make cinema a personal medium of storytelling.

The mood the film creates will definitely remind you of some classics of the genre like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. To enjoy this film, you will need to be a little patient. Some people have a taste for slow paced films that build up slowly but steadily towards the end. You need to set your expectations aside when you watch a film and start with a clean slate. If you do so, you will be introduced to a whole new world previously known only to the director of the film.

The film is smart and scary at the same time. The fun part is, as an audience you don’t feel like passively observing through the lens but you feel like you are actually taking part in the action. The whole realistic approach to filmmaking immerse you in the experiences the characters have and after some time you appreciate the raw images that move in front of you.

I think I owe a lot to the director for teaching me so much about the “found-footage” style of filmmaking. In fact it would be a nice experiment to try something like this as our next project. Cheers to getting inspired!

Director: Martin Sommerdag.

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbtRsgPWIRU

IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2008671/

Alpha Hawk Films

Little Boy – Alejandro Monteverde

So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

As the title suggests, Little Boy is a film about a little boy. The film is set in the 1940s. Ostracised by the kids around him, this boy named Pepper (Jakob Salvati) finds his best friend in his father (Michael Rapaport). The two continue looking at their life through their fantasies until Pepper’s father enlists in his older son’s place for World War II. Now, Pepper is willing to do anything it takes to bring his father back to him. Even if it is totally beyond his control.

Watch the trailer here.

On his quest for bringing back his father, pepper meets certain people who influence him in a great manner.

  1. His elder brother London (David Henrie) who is filled with hostility towards the Japanese, just like the rest of America during war. London is also raged by the fact that he was declared ineligible for military service because of flat feet and that his father has to fight “his war” for him. After some days when the news of his father being taken as a prisoner of war reaches his family, London loses his mind and takes out his aggression on an old local Japanese guy named Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). Along with Pepper, London attempts to threaten Hashimoto and gets arrested for the same.
  2. Pepper finds a hero. Just like the one in his imaginary world. Ben Eagle, the magician (Ben Chaplin). Who shows him a magic trick and moves a bottle.
  3. One day in the church, Pepper hears the Bible verse, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Mt. 17:20), and goes to the town priest, Father Oliver (Tom Wilkinson) to learn how to use the power of faith. encourages Pepper to befriend Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). And also gives him a checklist that will make his faith stronger. And which will help him get his father back.
  4. Hashimoto becomes Pepper’s friend and helps him believe in himself. He tells him the story of a Samurai warriors who fought and saved his country from stronger enemies. Hashimoto argues with the priest that what he is doing will not help in bringing Pepper’s father back. And after Pepper completes the list, if his father does not come back from war, he will lose faith in himself.

These characters suggest that the film is also about having a good role model. And also about how through so many adverse thoughts surround the kid, how he makes his own choices and finds his own personal religion.

It is a very interesting term, personal religion. It signifies the personal, one on one relationship with an individual and God. No matter what others tell you about God, you will always have your own idea of God. And your ego will govern your relationship with God. Your ego will tell you whether you are acting in a way that God would appreciate or not.

The film is about a little boy and The Little Boy. It is an uplifting tale about faith and the power of believing in something. And at the same time, it does a commendable job of staying away from preachiness. In the end, it kept everything quite open to interpretation, making us the little boy and giving us a choice to believe what we want. Most impressively, the film points out that there is little difference between faith and magical thinking.

The film is written and directed by Smithsonian Institute Award winning director Alejandro Monteverde. And produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the husband-and-wife team behind “Son of God.” It earned $6.5 million on a $20 million budget. Which is kind of sad.

I watched this film and afterwards like I usually do, I searched for it online. I was stunned. I was amazed to see such negative reviews for a movie of this calibre. And I thought as a person who appreciates cinema should make an attempt to let the makers of this marvel know, that I think the movie is truly brilliant.

Net Effect

They say experience is the worst kind of teacher. The test comes first and you learn the lesson later. But you remember it for the longest of times. Such scars teach you a lot. And more importantly they keep reminding you of how strong you are.

I recently had a bad experience. Something related to the work I do. I had high expectations from the project and it did not work out the right way. Which made me doubt my abilities and my future a little.

It is foolish to expect each and every experience to be awesome. Nobody likes to have sweets all the time. We need something spicy from time to time. Life is not alway sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes covered in grey clouds of doubt. And thank God for that! It makes us appreciate the good parts. It helps us form memories. It helps us grow.

It is not possible to take everything positively. Some things hurt you at that particular time. And the fact that you feel pain is just a signal that you are alive. Nothing wrong in that. But even if you take some things negatively momentarily, make sure that the net effect is positive. If someone hurts you, and you can’t let it go. Store that potential energy in you. Store that energy till it becomes a volcano. Point it in the right direction and let it erupt. Millions of years ago such volcanos erupted and formed clouds of dust and ash and vapour, eventually raining down on earth and creating life! Volcanos are powerful tools of creation.

No matter what level you reach, it is difficult to handle criticism. Because the higher you rise, the deeper you can fall. Bad experiences make experienced players. And I am going to think about the long term positivity the experience is going to bring in my life. I am going to jot down the things that went wrong from my end and also the errs of the client. And I am going to make sure these same mistakes don’t happen the next time. And trust me, there are limited ways in which  you can go wrong. Once you have gone wrong all the ways, you have no option but to get it right.

Cheers to getting one step closer.

First Look : Q’s Ludo and Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s Highway

F.i.g.h.t C.l.u.b

Q and Umesh Kulkarni – two daring film-making voices from two different corners of the country, and whose films we always look forward to. And this time both of them seem to be trying something new which they haven’t done before. Q’s film is called Ludo and Umesh’s film is Highway Ek Selfir Aarpaar.

Q has directed the film with Nikon.

LUDO

Trailer :

Official Synopsis :

Four desperate teenagers. A night of sexy mayhem. The big city. Or so the plan goes, until a series of misadventures later, Babai, Pele, Ria and Payal end up in a locked shopping mall in the dead of the night. Alone at last… until an old couple appears out of nowhere with a piece of folded leather and a glass container with two dice made of bone. A game. Simple, but deadly. They call it Ludo. A game defiled by a young couple…

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Jumpy

Eastern grey kangaroo mother carrying a joey in her pouch

Mum kangaroo loved her baby. Why wouldn’t she? Her world had changed after she saw her baby. HER baby. It gave her a sense of pride, a sense of happiness. It was a joy just to see the baby, turn into a bigger baby. She always kept the baby close to her heart. Never letting the baby go out of her sight.

Time went by and the baby grew up. Much to the Mum’s surprise, the baby was now old enough to make Mum a grandmum! But that was for the world. For Mum, baby always remained a baby. One day, baby told her Mum that she was curious. Baby wanted to see the world. Mum said, “I’ll come with you.” But baby, wanted to be alone. “ABSURD. RIDICULOUS.” Mum said. This changed behaviour of baby shocked Mum. She never thought baby could ever want to go away from her.

Mum kangaroo had a friend. That friend stayed on a tree and laid eggs in a nest. So everyone called her Birdie. Every once in a while, the eggs would turn into little birdies. Then Mum birdie would save food to feed them, and work double shift to cope up with the pressure.

One day Mum kangaroo saw something strange. Mum birdie was pushing her little birdies off the high branch. Mum kangaroo yelled, shrieked. Called Mum birdie names for pushing her little ones away and letting them go. But Mum birdie motivated her little ones to jump. They looked at their Mum and took a leap of faith. They fell and they fell! Mum kangaroo closed her eyes and opened only when she heard the sky full of exuberant chirps. Little ones were soaring high!

Then Mum birdie came down, near Mum kangaroo. Kangaroo asked her, “Now your children know how to fly on their own. Would they come back to your nest?” Mum birdie just smiled and said, “Maybe they will. Maybe they wont. But watching them soar is worth the risk. I didn’t want my worry stop my little ones from doing something so wonderful. Sometimes, you just have to let go and believe in what you have taught your children. Things turn out fine.”

Mum kangaroo didn’t sleep that night.

A year had passed since then. Aftrer that night, Mum kangaroo withdrew the boundaries and let baby go. Baby never came back… Instead there was a kangaroo, fully grown. She looked so pretty even Mum couldn’t recognize HER baby. She only recognized her when out of her pocket came a little one, new baby! Mum kangaroo jumped and landed on the ground as a grandmum. That leap was worth it. She quickly held new baby to which her baby said, “Careful!” Grandmum just smiled with a sense of pride, with a sense of happiness and said, “I know…”

Looper, Time travel and More

“It is the big choices we make that set our direction. It is the smallest choices we make that get is to our destination.” – Dr. Shad Helmstetter

On the surface it looks like an action film based on the concept of time-travel. But as we explore further, it has more to it. I can’t say whether it is good or bad.

(The article does not contain a synopsis of the film. Please read it here or elsewhere. And then enjoy reading!)

Time Travel in Looper:

Time Travel is a very complicated subject when put to celluloid. It never answers all of your questions and creates paradoxes. By the end of the film when the credits start rolling, you always have to interpret what you saw on screen. That makes it really difficult for the makers of the film to make something palatable for the audience. We have seen films which are fairly easy to understand (Back to the Future Trilogy, The Terminator) and we have also seen complicated subjects in Cloud Atlas. (Cloud Atlas is Time Travel, kind of…) Looper has some really different theories about time travel.

Massive spoilers are ahead.

The movie has a linear approach to the repercussions of time travel. We experience stuff as the characters experience it.  Everything is kind of being created and fused in terms of the timeline in the present moment. Nothing has happened till it has actually happened. The makers have made an excellent explanation of how time travel affects the future self by torturing Seth (Paul Dano). Seth lets his future self run away instead of killing him. So his boss finds Young Seth and etches the location on his hand. The location then appears as a scar on Old Seth’s hand. While he struggles to get there, he keeps losing his fingers and eventually loses his legs. His limbs disappear. It implies that Young Seth is being tortured and his body is getting disintegrated piece by piece. Old Seth reaches the spot where Kid Blue (Noah Segan) kills him.

Similarly, Young Joe etches on his hand to give a message to Old Joe. When Young Joe gets shot, the bullet wound appears on Old Joe’s shoulder. Old Joe also forms new memories as per what Young Joe experiences. The only problem in the film according to this theory is that Old Joe disappears rather than dying in the last scene when Young Joe kills himself. When Young Seth loses his legs, Old Seth still exists and continues living in a linear timeline although it would’ve been impossible to get where he is shown in the film without his legs. So that implies that what happens to your younger self will appear instantaneously to you. In that sense Old Joe should fall down or turn into ashes when Young Joe dies.

In the Terminator series, we have multiple overlapping timelines. Every change creates a complete divergent timeline. In Looper, we have a similar situation, but everything loops back into into a single point in the same single timeline.

Metaphors and other cool stuff:

1. Blunderbuss vs magnum

As the makers have made it pretty obvious in the film poster, the Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sports a Blunderbuss shotgun and the Old Joe (Bruce Willis) has a magnum. In the film, the characters explain the specific role of these two different guns. Blunderbuss is a short range weapon but it is unmissable. At the same time Magnum has greater accuracy and can cover a long distance. Maybe that is what the decisions of our lead characters signify. Young Joe always thinks about his short term gains while Old Joe thinks on a long term basis. In the end, Young Joe kills himself with a blunderbuss. He goes with his gut feeling and finds a way of making a long term impact with a short range weapon.

2. The Stubborn Stump

When Young Joe meets Sara (Emily Blunt), she is trying to get rid of a huge tree stump in her field with an axe. Young Joe tells her that using an axe might not be the quickest way of getting the results. Sara doesn’t respond to this suggestion. She continues to break the stump using her axe. She chips off little pieces every time she strikes. This may not be the most efficient way of doing the thing but Sara believes that she needs to be patient. In the narrative of the film, we see that Sara’s son Cid doesn’t believe that Sara is his mother as he was raised by Sara’s sister after Sara abandoned him. This is the stubborn idea in Cid’s head which Sara needs to clear and she needs to be very patient about it. This element makes the movie about good parenting and how it can change the world.