When education becomes absurd: an inescapable Mobius loop

Jettie 2022-04-21 09:02:22

Welcome to my original film review "Different YOUNG | Shadow Thinking"

At the beginning of the film, the words of Camus are quoted to outline the outline, which shows the director's admiration for Camus and his absurd philosophy. I personally think that "Camus" and "absurdity" are the key words to deconstruct this film.

It is an inescapable Mobius ring of all sorts of absurdities: teachers, parents, government officials, everyone is an outsider from "existence" who unites the society and collectively murders education . And those poor students who are spurned by others are the evil consequences of this absurdity. At the same time, they use absurdity to attack society .

Teacher: The Weightless Outsider

Camus once said that when people face the difficult and mechanical reality of survival, they must live according to a rhythm and life pattern every day, which inevitably produces this sense of absurdity: "Why should I live like this? Why can't I live like this? Live in other ways? However, you can't live in other ways, you have to live in the way you are now." Thus, a sense of absurdity arises.

Just like the five teachers interviewed in the form of a pseudo-documentary at the beginning of the film. Ironically, none of these five people at all liked being teachers : they either went with the flow; either because they couldn't do the job they liked; either because they were competing with relatives who were teachers; Escaping the career choices their parents imposed on them—they hate being teachers, they even swear they can do anything, but they don’t want to be teachers— the absurd thing is that they have been teachers all their lives ...

Due to the lack of identification with the profession of teaching, they gradually drifted away from their souls on this career path that they did not like, and gradually became alienated, numb, and lost their sense of existence... They became detached from the world. An outsider who is inside but out of touch with the world. This state of weightlessness divides them into two diametrically opposed souls, "day" and "night" , and the shackles of reality force these two souls into the same body, squeezing each other's living space:

The occupational stereotypes during the day forced them to rein in the hidden wounds in their hearts, and the blurred emotions at night evaporated the emptiness and disillusionment in their bones. The soundtrack complements the mournful and desperate cello with the melodious and bright violin, perfectly setting off the film's magical realism tone.

Just like the protagonist Henry, he plays the role of a teacher in a gentle and refined manner during the day, preaching and dispelling doubts. He seems to be knowledgeable, rational, aloof, and a maintainer of order. However, when night falls, his fragility and hesitation are like water in a bathtub. It spreads out: he scolded the female nurse in the hospital out of control, sat alone on the bus licking the wound and burst into tears, facing the entanglement of young prostitutes, swearing and swearing...

It's not the same with other teachers.

The seemingly strong headmistress is in danger of being fired, and she has to deal with a devastated marriage after returning home; the old teacher with white hair looks like a hippie smile, but has to rely on drugs to regulate her emotions; she is spit in the face by students in public Sarah, who can only hold back the spittle, seems to be strong, but she is afraid to go home and face her long-lost parents...

There is only one call for leave every day, and the old black teacher who never showed up on campus finally appeared in front of his colleagues in the form of a portrait after his death, but no one cared how he died ...

Another male teacher, in the daytime, kept the classroom order with a hoarse voice, but was ignored by the students; when he returned home at night, he deliberately made a lot of noise, but was still regarded as air by his wife; he lay on the playground like a fish out of water every day. He struggled and suffocated on the barbed wire, but no one looked at him in the huge campus - no one cared about how he lived ...

Remember the first sentence of the first chapter of the first page of Camus' novel The Outsider ?

- " Today, my mother died. Maybe it was yesterday, I can't figure it out ". This famous opening remarks in the literary world, only a few dozen words, the indifference and alienation between people are nothing more than this.

The whole society has been alienated and terminally ill. No one is spared. The teacher is depersonalized as a cold symbol, a rigid, cookie-cutter mask. They are " like a dollar bill that keeps changing hands in society "...so cheap and lacking a sense of belonging .

In the photograph that Fat Girl gave to Henry, Henry was standing in a corner of an empty classroom without a face. In the eyes of the students, he is always a vague shadow, a flat piece of paper. The students can only see him in the classroom and play the role of "teacher", but cannot touch his life and his emotions. , his trauma.

No one cares about their inner world other than the role of "teacher", no one affirms their professional value and life value, or even bothers to go up and say "hi" to them. However, they have to bear the escape of parents, the rebellion of students, the KPI of the government, various unrealistic expectations from the society, and even the surrounding housing prices...

So they cast their resentment on their children. The principal believes that poor life should be abandoned . The deceased old black teacher even bluntly shouted in his dying words: Not every child deserves to be educated, let those children who have no pursuit, no passion and no thought die!

Parents: Happy Sisyphus

Sisyphus is a figure in Greek mythology who was punished for angering the gods by pushing a falling boulder to the top of the mountain without stopping. This is the most vivid symbol of the absurdity of human existence: people live so painfully, but they are obsessed with reproduction . They happily push the stone called "Absurd Fate" by multiplying...

Reproduction makes Sisyphus parents happy, who fantasize about changing their absurd destiny through their children .

But when children are actually born, they begin to complain about the pain of reproduction and avoid parental responsibilities. Children are no longer an opportunity to change their absurd destiny , but a component of their absurd destiny . So, they started to resent children .

The anonymous eulogy that Henry read in class

As Henry said in the anonymous eulogy he read in class, parents don't understand why their child committed suicide, what dissatisfaction she has, and they think they have tried their best to satisfy her; Along with her personality and dignity, he obviously didn't think he did anything wrong when he stepped on her feet and trampled them wantonly. Ironically, there is no shot of the father from beginning to end in the film , only his voice, a metaphor for the absence of fatherly love .

Fat girl's father scolds daughter

Originally, just dealing with their own absurd fate has already made them devastated, and simply dumped their children's education on the school and teachers. Once there was a problem, they immediately went to the school to make a scene in a rage, and by the way, "standing and talking without back pain" questioned the teacher: "If you can't cure her, what do you want?!"

The school held a party called "parents night". Teachers waited for hours on campus, only to see one parent . More than this party, throughout the whole film, the discussion is obviously about children's education, but there are very few scenes of parents appearing . The teachers couldn't help but wonder, " Where are all the parents ?"

The director gave an interesting shot: at the exit of the school , there are only teachers and no parents at the exit, implying that when teachers are trying to find the exit, parents are often absent-this is the root of education problems . The absurdity of education is self-evident.

Camus said in "Le Mythe de Sisyphe" that Sisyphus was happy because " every moment he left the top of the mountain, every minute he was creeping into the lair of the gods. , he surpassed his own destiny. He was stronger than the stone he pushed. "

Camus' Sisyphus has the courage to take the initiative . Destiny is a matter of man himself and must be borne by man himself, instead of entrusting his destiny to some illusory thing, even God and descendants .

- Such a Sisyphus deserves the word "happiness".

As for those Sisyphus parents, I agree with Henry's proposal: make them mandatory, train them before they intend to become parents, and warn them " dangerous, don't imitate "!

Society: The Rebel of the Absurd

The advent of The Rebel, which led to a break with Sartre, Camus insisted on his conscience: " If children suffer in order that all the suffering necessary for truth may be fully realized, then I will from now on Will categorically say that such a truth is not worth the price ."

And this absurdity in the film is obviously at the expense of children .

Compared with the Academy of Athens, which was created by Plato in the time of the sages, gave birth to countless sages such as Aristotle and Pythagoras, and opened a prosperous generation, the school today has long lost its due. The sublime and solemn have become the puppets of capital, and become an assembly line that supplies tools to the alienated society .

Government officials, communities, and parents all speak KPIs based on scores. The purpose of the students here is no longer the truth, but only to seek a ticket to join the party of the absurd society. All ideas, philosophies, propositions, and pursuits are shelved, replaced by youth and souls that have been stifled by dogma.

Youth and soul shattered

When government officials accused the principal of poor performance and threatened to expel her, the principal accused the government of sending all the poor students to the school. There is a notorious "racial segregation" in history, I don't know if it is a disguised " achievement segregation" .

Black officials hypocritically declared that they "respect and love teachers," their work, and their ideas, but in their bones they are the endorsement of the interests of real estate developers, tying the school's enrollment rate to the surrounding housing prices; Poor students, but as a result, this poor school was demolished into ruins. In his eyes, the school has long been an enterprise, and the professional value of teachers is no different from sales .

It needs to be explained here: General education in the United States is a school district system, and the funding is provided by the taxpayers of the school district. Rich areas have more money, and schools are good. As soon as the school is good, more wealthy people will move in for their children's education, which will further drive up local housing prices. On the contrary, the poor districts have no money, the schools are barely maintained, the quality is getting worse and worse, and finally people with a little financial ability will move out for the sake of their children, making the place more and more poor. Ultimately resulting in the "segregation of the rich and the poor" characteristic of the United States.

The high-level government ignores the future of children and industrializes education, so what about the bottom of the society? A group of old men who were fathers and grandfathers who could be young prostitutes , bullied her in every possible way and showed no mercy.

Student: I rebel, therefore I exist

"This is a 24-hour MLM-style mental slaughter!"

In this alien world of hopelessness and indifference, all people are fragmented and self-defeating, as the cat-abusing child put it, they are "trapped" , just like the abused and powerless cat. At night, they go home with problems. As a result, the "kick cat effect" was passed down the chain of anger.

Children, are undoubtedly at the bottom of the chain.

They can't understand why they are a punching bag for their parents and teachers? Why are parents and teachers reluctant to spend even a little time getting to know themselves? Why are my wishes always ignored? Why do you have to live your life the way your parents and teachers dictate? Why do people of color have to be discriminated against? Why is the value of a girl only limited to marriage? Why are girls' body and appearance being criticized and attacked for no reason? Why don't you have a father? Why did my grandfather sexually assault my mother? Why did my mother kill herself?

Even, they can't understand, why give birth to them?

school in chubby photography

The school should be a place to carry knowledge, conscience, care, friendship and hope, but in Fat Girl's photography, the school is just an empty space, a pile of cold furniture, no popularity, no heat, it is an extremely empty, Where the indifference is , there is no exit, and there is no place to store the soul.

Teachers are supposed to be guides and help students understand the complexities of the world , but in the eyes of students, they are a bunch of alienated, scripted "idiots."

Manic girl spitting on teacher's face

So they started to rebel. They rebelled against their parents, against their teachers, against their schools, against their society... They used their own ways to vent their anger and dissatisfaction: cat abuse, fighting, swearing, deviating from the classics, giving up on themselves, and even committing suicide.

They find their long-lost presence in the rebellion.

Others are hell. Finally, parents, teachers, and society join forces to create an abyss around their children. When you stare into the abyss, the abyss is also staring at you. When these children who have grown up with problems enter the society, with the enhancement of their abilities and the expansion of social influence, this abyss gradually expands into a black hole, which then devours the surrounding people and things, and even the entire society—— Just like their parents, teachers, those government officials, don't forget, they were once children too .

Therefore, when the psychological counselor watched the ignorant and fearless children squandering their youth carelessly and going to hell step by step, they finally couldn't help but collapse.

Henry: The Hero of the Absurd

Art critic Susan Sontag said: "Kafka evokes pity and fear, Joyce evokes admiration, Proust and Andre Gide evoke homage, but nothing but Camus Other than that, I can't think of any other modern writer that evokes love. "

Henry and the young prostitute just embraced, and the dawn behind them thought they were both redeemed

It was in the love of the prostitute and the fat girl that Henry was redeemed. Fat girl's death made him unload the burden of his soul, dare to face himself, realize the responsibility on his shoulders, and the interaction with the young prostitute reminded him of the happy time he had with his mother in childhood. It was these that freed Henry from the quagmire of his native family and completed his detachment.

Being blamed for eternal punishment, but happy, is definitely a kind of resistance, and it is also the only possible form of resistance under such conditions, and only resistance can reflect dignity. Henry is the " absurd hero " sung by Camus. He is a banner of human beings who do not despair or despair, rise up in the absurd, and fight against the absurd fate to the end.

It is worth pondering that at the end of the film, the detached Henry finally decides to stay in this school to give lectures for a long time and redeem the students in his own way, but there are fewer and fewer students in the audience. Tables and chairs are toppled, confetti is flying, and the barren scene hints at the director's desolate mood . Henry was martyred on the podium holding a book and raving about the American writer Edgar Allan Poe's Gothic novel "The Fall of Usher":

During the whole of a dull,dark soundless day,in the autumn of that year

On one long, dull, grey day in the autumn of that year

When the clouds hung oppressively low in heaven

Heavy clouds hang low above the sky

I have benn passing alone on the horse's back

I ride my horse alone

Through the Singularly,dreary tract in the country

through this gloomy, exotic country land

And at length found myself as the shades of the evening drew on

Finally, when night fell slowly

Within the view of melancholy House of Usher

The cold view of the House of Usher unfolded before my eyes

I know not how it was

I've never seen it look like it used to

But with the first glimpse of the building

but only a glimpse

A sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit

Some unbearable gloom penetrated my heart

I looked upon some blank scape for domain

I looked at the sparse landscape around the mansion

Upon the bleak walls,upon the white trunks of decayed trees

The walls are barren, the decayed trees are white

With the utter depression souls

My soul is speechless

There was an iceness

my heart is cooling

A sinking


A sickening of the heart

showing weakness

At this point, the whole play ends.

Off topic

Personally, this film is more desperate and painful than "The Furnace" . There are at least a few "bad guys" in "The Furnace" as targets for your criticism. And everyone in "Separate" has their own pain, and you don't know who to blame, so that your resentment has nowhere to be placed.

Until the end, the film did not give a solution to this problem, and could only be summed up in four words: terminally ill. Perhaps in the director's mind, this is an unsolved cycle.

The film contains a lot of elements, but it will not give people a scattered and superficial feeling. Every element is organically combined to form a logical chain that can withstand scrutiny. It is divided into rich and diversified primary and secondary levels, and each element is expressed in different lengths, but even if some elements are just passing by, they are punctual and do not reduce their depth in the slightest.

Lens language: symbolizing Henry's soul and body drifting apart

Since director Tony Kaye had previous experience in making documentaries, he personally felt that he tried to confuse fantasy and reality with two diametrically opposed forms of film fiction and documentary documentary. He also innovatively uses handheld lens documentary shooting and flashbacks to express the storyline and create a textured picture. All in all, the film's photography, editing, narrative, and lens language all give people an irresistible shock.

View more about Detachment reviews

Extended Reading
  • Haylee 2021-12-18 08:01:09

    When the movie was all finished, the theater lights turned on. At that moment, I even felt that the air in this place with thousands of people was condensed. Everyone was breathing carefully, and was deeply shocked by the despair.

  • Kristy 2022-03-26 09:01:06

    The soul is trapped in an empty shell, like brothers and sisters in "The Fall of Usher", scratching the lid of the coffin and longing for detachment. It may seem like the preaching of the times, but it is the most blatantly true. Since the essence of education is to think independently, it should be clear why to think. Now that you know the fallacy, you should stop believing the lies.

Detachment quotes

  • Henry Barthes: Y'know you can't... you can't keep living on the street...

    Erica: I'm not, I mean, I'm staying here with you.

    Henry Barthes: Well, you can't continue to stay here with me. I'm not good for you...

    Erica: That's not true. You're like, the only family I've ever had...

    Henry Barthes: Well, I can't be your family, I can't give you what you need. You have to understand, you should be...

    Erica: You're good and gentle, you're the most kind... I love you Henry. Don't let them take me, please nooooooooo, you're all I have, please don't let me go.

    [Social workers take her away still protesting]

  • Henry Barthes: I am money, I change hands like the dollar bill, that has been rubbed by a lamp; Then a genie appeared and cried loudly, with volume; But the tears were all for myself, and that's where it all went wrong