Children of Heaven

Children Of HeavenA delightful Iranian movie about a boy who loses his sister’s shoes and must share his own sneakers with her in a sort of relay while each attends school at different times during the day. Finally, the boy enters a much-publicized foot race, hoping to place third. The prize: a new pair of sneakers. Directed by respected filmmaker Majid Majidi, Children of Heaven is just that — heavenly.

Starring: Mohammad Amir Naji, Amir Farrokh Hashemian, More

Director: Majid Majidi

I absolutely loved this movie. If you are new to Iranian filmmaking you are in for a treat. Human stories set against the backdrop of a very different way of life, make for a great opportunity to illustrate the thing that we all have in common regardless of race, creed or color. That thing is the choice making machine of our minds. We’re all infinite choice makers. In fact every moment of every day is an opportunity to choose from an infinity of possibilities, each leading to a different outcome. And when that outcome doesn’t match the one that we recognize as preferred, we call that adversity. And of course how we choose to face that adversity confirms the pattern of each of our individual lives.

In this movie, the young Iranian boy makes choices that lead to loss of his sisters shoes. This is a serious situation for our character and he is motivated by two emotions to come up with a solution to the problem. Those emotions are love and fear, though one is stronger than the other. As it happens in the story, events are set into motion that put the boy on the path to achieving something great. If all that matters to the boy is the shoes will any other outcome have any value? You’ll have to watch and see! The value of your shoes will change forever!

What’s in it for us?

This movie illustrates the idea and that we are infinite choices makers. That in every moment of our lives, every action and every thought gives us the opportunity to make a choice. If our choices and lead us into adversity then we in fact have chosen that adversity. And adversity only becomes so when the events of our lives, the result of our choices, put us in a situation that does not match our expectation. We call that adversity. In the movie, the boys choices led to his sisters shoes being lost. He faced this adversity by working out a difficult schedule of sharing his own shoes with his sister so that they could both go to school.

  • Couldn’t there have been an easier way?
  • What was the motivation behind his choice?
  • Love for his sister or fear of his father?

Yes he clearly loves his sister is the movie will show you, but his primary motivation was the fear of his father. While love is always a better choice to motivate an action in any endeavor, this movie is an opportunity to witness the perfection that can be found in every choice and every outcome. In everything that we call a mistake there is also an opportunity. The climax of this movie is a double lesson for us the viewers. With fear as his motivation, the young boy chooses a path that requires discipline and hard work in order to allow his sister to go to school and simultaneously avoid what he is certain would be the wrath of his father. While this discipline and hard work causes him pain, it conditions his body to achieve something great which we get to witness and learn from in the end. We also witness that the boy doesn’t benefit from this lesson. The result of his efforts is viewed as a triumph by his community, while to him it was a failure because in exceeding his goal he once again is faced with having to let his father know that he lost his sisters shoes. Blinded by fear, he doesn’t understand his own accomplishment, even while others are cheering the moment.

What is perfect about that? He may recall the experience later in life of how discipline and hard work can be applied to achieve great results in a properly motivated and worthy endeavor. More perfection can be perceived, as the universe delivers results that did not allow him to avoid his father. Only in facing his father will he ever have a chance to see that fear is not real, but instead only an imagining of a negative possibility.

What possibilities are we missing out on by taking actions motivated by negative possibilities that we have only imagined? By asking ourselves one simple question when faced with the choice in any situation we can clearly identify what motivates our action.

With this choice am I moving away from something I fear, or am I moving toward something that I truly desire?

Mark

Remember, you are what you watch!