Monday, June 01, 2015

"Mr. Pip": tragic story on the consequences of how a book character's name is interpreted

Mr. Pip”, directed by Andrew Abramson (2012) and based on a novel ("Mister Pip") by Lloyd Jones, shows that books (like websites and social media) can get dangerous in the wrong hands.  Or, that is, names of book characters.
A civil war rages in Papua, New Guinea, partly over control of copper mines.  A blockade leaves Mr. Watts (Hugh Laurie) as the only white man on the island.  He teaches English in primitive conditions and presents the novel “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.  A girl Matilda Naimo (Xzannjah Matsi) becomes fascinated with the orphan female character Pip (also mentioned in a Twilight Zone episode one time).  She writes the character’s name in the sand on the beach. But “Pip” (Eka Darville) happens to be the name of a native, and the “Redskins” (no connection to football) believe him to be a rebel leader.  Ultimately, this has tragic consequences for the teacher. The confrontation forty minutes before the end is brutal indeed.

In an early scene, Matilda’s mother even warns her that outside books can be dangerous in their world.

The film has an epilogue that sees the girl winding up in London and meeting the teacher's widow, who says he was a "weak man".  But there is a quote on a painting of Dickens, "It is the most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home." 
The official site is here (Freestyle Releasing and Focus Features International). The film was shot on location and in New Zealand.
A friend  (himself in the movies) just tweeted “The overarching message to a child isn’t read but consume,” while this film played on Netflix on another computer in the same room.
This film could well be shown in high school English classes, although it is a bit long (at 115 minutes) to fit into one block period.
The film can be rented on YouTube for $3.99. 
Wikipedia attribution link for Kurlu Village is here, under Creative Commons Share-Alike 2.0. 

No comments: