Monday 30 March 2009

no hiding from this story

This blog has suggested before that Greek drama, with its focus on hubris, offers rich source material for plays on climate change. (Faust has been another suggestion; and the genre of farce another still.)

But as the issue of climate-change refugees becomes increasingly urgent there's another Greek narrative that offers a ready template: The Odyssey.

In Le Monde today there's an op-ed article on the remarkable success of Welcome (blogged here), a new movie about a swimming instructor who helps train a young Kurd to swim the channel (pic).

Jacques Mandelbaum and Thomas Sotinel place the movie in a tradition that includes Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Ken Loach, Stephen Frears and Costa-Gavras. They argue that this type of story will only increase as the rich countries: 'multipliaient les mesures répressives et dissuasives à l'encontre des migrants'.

The range of extreme risks undertaken by illegal migrants gives these stories the appeal of 'un modern Ulysse'. (Except, of course, that Odysseus was heading in the other direction: he was on his way home.)

The authors also suggest that another character is vital to the success of Welcome (as it is, they say, to Tom McCarthy's The Visitor). This is the citizen who is suddenly confronted by the situation of the illegal immigrant. It's through these characters ('les intercesseurs') that the audience enters these hidden worlds.

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