Once a while, you see a movie that throws you off guard. It shines light on aspects of life, which you have never thought of. I recently watched a Spanish movie, “La memoria del agua (The memories of water)” in Netflix. If you’re planning to watch it, please stop reading this article right now. If you don’t, then I am going to spoil your experience. Not because I am going to explain neatly the story, but because my writing will be worse and it will totally ruin the movie’s essence.
The movie has a simple story line. Parents who lost their 4 years old son in an accident, part ways after his death. We are lead to believe that there were no fissures in their relationship prior to the accident. But soon after her son’s death, the wife decides to part ways, simply because her husband reminds her of her son. She couldn’t come to grips with her son’s death at all. Instead of getting through this horrid time together, she wants to hang her husband out to dry. At the outset, this looked harsh. But when I thought about it later, it made sense in a weird way.
Their son was born out of their loving relationship. If we look at it in terms of cause and effect, the effect is no longer there, while the cause still exists. Yet, she decides to disregard the cause. How could the very love – the cause, be ignored? Her son was a justification of her love towards her husband. Now that her son is gone, there is no reason for her love any longer. The husband has no role in this. He didn’t cause his son’s death( yes, he did cause his son’s birth, so in a weird way the husband was cause of his son’s death too, but so was she), he still loves his wife and wants to get through the despairing situation together. However, she is not willing to accept this, because it’s her love that has lost its meaning.
She starts a relationship with another person. Not because she moved on from her despair, but because she tries to numb it. She neither faces the tragedy head on by accepting her loss nor she wants to forget it and move on. In a strange turn of events, she reconnects with her husband on a snowy day and they both, for that one day, forget their loss. But the reality hits her the next day. In a terrific, though contrived, scene she gives a philosophical monologue. She questions the absurdity of her existence, understands that no savior is going to come and save her, and that her only reality – her son – is gone and she is not going to get that back. She then leaves her husband, from what it looks to us, for good.
This movie made me realize how we justify our actions and by doing so, we find meaning. We humans feel an urge to justify our actions either to ourselves or to others. If we are able to, then we think we have found meaning. But, the moment when the long believed justification is lost, the meaning is also lost. Humans can live without anything in this world, but it is hard for them to live without meaning after realizing it(some people go on living a meaningless life, because they don’t realize it). A meaningful life is considered a good life. The irony of this search for meaning, is that we look for it in a meaningless universe. And when people realize this, they either accept it, deny it or altogether ignore it through their meaningless actions. In this film, the mother when she does, she decides to ignore it by leaving her husband and finding a new meaningless relationship. One might ask, when both relationships are meaningless, why couldn’t she stay with her husband. She couldn’t because being with him will keep reminding her of this meaninglessness throughout her life. And that is something she cannot live with. Nor anybody else could live with. When I looked from this perspective, I could understand her actions.
Maybe there was no real meaning in this movie or maybe what the director had in his mind is an entirely different meaning. But because I am part of this human species, I looked for meaning. I realized once again that there is no way we can find the meaning in this meaningless universe (meaningless movie, perhaps), and whatever meaning we think we find tend to be meaningless in the end. Cheers!!