Once again, I had the priviledge to watch European films during the 11th Cine Europa Festival here in Manila last September 11 to 21. It kinda suck because I was not able to watch the two films that I was really looking forward to see (After the Wedding and Love Songs). But I was able to watch 7 out of 15 movies so I guess it’s not that bad at all. Haha!
Anyway. Out of the seven films that I saw there was this one film that really struck me, big time. It is “And When Did You Last See Your Father?“, from United Kingdom, starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth. And that’s what I’ll be talking about.
The film is about Blake Morrison (Firth) and his conflicting memories of his dying father (Broadbent). As his father’s condition worsened Morrison contemplated their shared experiences, the intimacies and the irritations of their relationship. After his father’s death Morrison questions the nature of the bond between them, articulately expressing the contradictions, frustrations, love and loss bound into the complicated relationships which most of us have with our parents as we grow up.
This film is special to me primarily because of the voice over during the last scenes which stirred a great deal of thoughts and emotions in me. It goes like this:
When did you last see your father? Was it when they burned the coffin? Put the lid on it? When he exhaled his last breath? When he last sat up and said something? When he last smiled? When he last felt healthy? The last time you had an argument about something?
The weeks before he left us were like a series of depletions; each day we thought ‘he can’t get less like himself than this,’ and each day he did. So I’ve been trying to recall the last time I actually saw him, the last time he was unmistakably there, in the fullness of being, ‘him’.
I was teary-eyed all through out these scenes and I know that a lot of the people watching were also crying (I know because I heard a lot of sniffs in the dark.) By the time the movie is over and I got out of the movie house, I didn’t expect that I will feel what I felt.
I missed my dad, terribly.
My father died due to heart attack when I was six years old. Looking back, I don’t think I have any memory of my father, at least the ones that really count. I remember one time when he arrived home late at night. I also remembered a night when he and my mom were having a fight about his alcoholism and gambling. Other than that, I don’t think I can remember anything more.
The next thing that I remember is the night when my Mom had to rush out of the house because something happened to my Dad. Then I remember waking up one morning to find my relatives (from both families) inside our house. I think that was the first time I saw them all in one place. Then I remember my grandma watching me as I have my breakfast saying, “Sige kain ka lang. Ubusin mo na yan para makita mo na si Papa mo.” (Rough translation: “Go on, eat. Finish your breakfast so you can finally see your Dad.”) Then they brought me to his coffin at the house next door. I was wondering why there were lots of people in that place, with lots of lights and flowers. I can clearly remember that I was so silent as one of my uncle was carrying me. When I saw my Dad lying there in the coffin, tears just started rolling down my face. At that moment I didn’t understand what was happening, why he was there. I just knew that something’s not right.
Unlike Blake Morrison, I grew up without a Dad. I admit that i can relate to almost all of the situations in the film when it comes to parent-children relationship. The frustrations, the conflicts, the bond, the love. But still it made me wish I had a Dad who is with me as I grew up. It made me ponder what would my life be like have I had a father. Would it be much better or would it be worse?
I’m not complaining about what I, and my family, have right now. God has been good and faithful to my family, how he turned our life around, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything else. This is just a what-coud’ve-been moment. I can’t believe that after 19 years I still miss the father whom I know so little about.
This film may have stirred the sleeping need in me for a father, but it also made me realize that I should cherrish every moment with the people I have in my life. That when the time comes that i am asked when was the last time I actually saw them, in the fullness of their being, I will be able to mention a lot.
To end this post, I would like to pass the same question to you… When did you last see your father?