In this scene from the 2017 movie Breathe, there is so much amazing intercultural stuff happening. While this is not the full focus of the film, the lessons learned from this scene alone are worth the viewing. And there’s so much more!
Review From an Intercultural Perspective
Against the backdrop of massive odds, Robin and Diana Cavendish live out an adventure sure to inspire. This true story, beginning in the 1950’s and pushing well into the 1980’s, offers glimpses into the fortitude of two people who redefine the depth of their love and commitment to each other.
Dedicated to a life of adventure, they learn to adjust their expectations as they face circumstances many would allow to overwhelm. As they work through the challenge of severe disability, they discover creative ways to live out their life of adventure. All the while, they push against boundaries and open up new opportunities for both contemporaries and those who will follow.
Tucked within this captivating story is a scene of true intercultural significance. Robin is determined not to let his disability stand in the way of his sense of adventure. After overcoming several impediments, he determines, with his wife’s full support, to travel by plane to Spain from their native England. Because Robin’s very life depends upon the functioning of a piece of equipment powered by electricity, the risk of being cut off from that source is always present.
In this instance, a massive short happens while driving in the hill country of Spain. This forces Diana, driving the vehicle, to pull over to the side of the road. As they examine the damage after escaping from their smoky van, they quickly resort to a manual alternative to keep Robin alive. As they’re doing so on the side of the road seemingly in the middle of nowhere, a man pulls up and asks in Spanish, “¿Necesitas ayuda? (Do you need help?)”
In due time, Diana’s brother, who is traveling with them, gets in the car with the Spaniard to go and find a telephone. This is the 1970’s, so making a call to England is not a simple thing. While he is gone, we see what happens: Diana and their son, Jonathan (a young boy at this point), keep Robin alive manually while they are waiting.
But the lovely intercultural element of Breathe is this: They do not need to keep him alive alone! In fact, dozens of villagers come up to the encampment, bringing food, drink, music and dance to enliven the circumstances. It’s really such a beautiful, vibrant and love-soaked scene. Language doesn’t get in the way; there is someone in the village who knows English and can act as an interpreter. But, even without that, the scene is buoyant, not one of life-or-death peril. Robin as well joins in on the fun; his smiles radiate.
Eventually Diana’s brother returns with the inventor of the machine in tow, and he fixes it in no time. All hail the accomplishment. But truth is, so much beauty and life exploded on that mountain top. Cultures coming together, making music, sharing stories, food and drink. Delighting in the moment.
What makes this scene so intense for me is the fact it is real. It actually happened. The Spaniards, people who tend to be about community and joviality embrace these British adventurers. The way these two cultures come together on top of a hill and make merry in the midst of a potentially devastating moment – this is powerful.
There’s very little in this movie not to like. For me, as an American, I had to listen a bit more closely to the British English, especially at moments where it proved somewhat muted. (Using the caption function would, of course, help with that.) And I would have appreciated more character development in the earlier stages of the movie. This would have created a deeper sense of knowing who Robin and Diane really were. And I believe it would have allowed me to get into their story even more.
Still, at the end, we learn what happened in real life, and we discover Jonathan, Robin and Diane’s son, who pursued a life in film, produced this gem of a movie. This is a story needing to be told. Jonathan did a phenomenal job bringing it to life. He has given the world an opportunity to not only meet his heroic mother and father, but also to see how their story spawned a significant change for people living with disabilities.
I wholeheartedly recommend this gem of a film. Go watch it – and let us know what you learn!
Details about this movie: Breathe is a Drama by Andy Serkis and stars Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander. Available through Amazon.
Image Credit: Westword.com
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