Sunday, August 9, 2015

Little Boy (2015)

Purely by coincidence, Anna and I watched Little Boy on the 70th anniversary of the US dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki towards the end of World War II. I say it's purely coincidental because the movie was all about how a family lived while the father was fighting the war, and eventually became a prisoner-of-war, in the Philippines. 

It was told from the point of view of the younger son; he wasn't as tall as his classmates, earning him the nickname "Little Boy". He was bullied by the meanest and biggest boy in his class, whose behaviour was left unchecked by his father, a doctor. The doctor, on the other hand, was too busy wooing Little Boy's mother (he's a widower). Little Boy's older brother, London, was angry most of the time because he wasn't qualified to be in the Army (which is why the father went) and didn't know how to convert his anger to productive energy. He was thrust into the role of breadwinner way before he was ready. The mother was quite a strong woman, who kept her family together throughout the ordeal (of not knowing if her husband was alive or not).

She was also the epitome of faith, the quiet type. She held on long enough to the belief that her husband would come home. Little Boy's faith was much simpler and more literal... Fitting for a kid. He was ready to believe and to do anything just to get his father back.

"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains."

At first, he believed that a magician can bring his father back because Little Boy was able to move a bottle, as a volunteer, during the magic show. But the parish priest explained it to him quite differently: Little Boy wanted to move the bottle so badly that the priest was convinced to move the bottle for him. That's how prayers worked, the priest explained: ask in good faith; if the Lord wills it, He gives it to you.

That childlike expressions of faith moved a mountain (literally because of an earthquake) and coincided with the atomic bomb attack in Japan (purely because he kept at it long enough). It also moved a lot of hearts. He became friends with another victim of bullying and discrimination, Hashimoto, a man of Japanese origin, who the Caucasians wanted to hurt or to kick out of the village because he was seen as the enemy (even if he was living in the US for 42 years). Through Hashimoto's help, Little Boy fed the hungry, clothed the naked, buried the dead, sheltered the homeless... He literally followed a list given to him by the parish priest, with the hope that through doing good deeds, he could bring his dad home.

His father did arrive home, alive, but not before a case of mistaken identity that lead to his apparent demise.

It was such a beautiful movie.