Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Movie review: God Grew Tired of Us
The other night, Maty and I watched the National Geographic documentary God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The film revolves around the real-life stories of three young Sudanese men: John Bul Dau, Panther Bior, and Daniel Abul Pach.
The historical events that serve as prologue to the story are horrifying and tragic. The Lost Boys are some 27,000 Sudanese boys who during that country's civil war in the late 1980s, marched barefoot over thousands of miles of African wilderness to a refugee camp in Kenya after their villages were attacked and their families killed or scattered. The film, however, does not dwell on the suffering and hardship that occurred in Africa. Nicole Kidman narrates the tale succinctly in the film's opening minutes, and director Christopher Quinn displays just the right amount of touch: paying tribute to the heroic feats of survival under such conditions and then moving forward to the late 1990s when the United States agreed to accept some of the Lost Boys as immigrants.
As we watch the three protagonists begin their new lives, we quickly become aware that these are extraordinary human beings. From the opening scenes, where they bid a bitterweet and tearful farewell to their companions and fellow survivors in a refugee camp in Kenya, through their sometimes comic adjustments to modern day conveniences, to their eventual and difficult integration into American life, these young men continually express gratitude, tolerance, serenity, and wisdom.
We watch these young men encounter and endure the sometimes unjust realities of life in the United States: economic insecurity, human indifference, xenophobia (but also kindness, generosity, and friendly curiousity). They struggle through isolation, exhaustion, and trepidation. But they never fail to remember the people they left behind. Each of the protagonists continues to send money to the Lost Boys in Kenya and to search for the families they lost in their flight from Sudan.
As the film concludes, we are treated to the scene of John Bul Dau being reunited with the mother he has not seen in some 15 years. It is only then that we see tears (and perhaps shed a few ourselves).
I came away from this film deeply moved and gently admonished. These young men displayed a heroism and virtue that I admire even while I am grateful for not having had to endure the horrific circumstances that forged them.
Kudos to Christopher Quinn for such an objective examination of three truly remarkable human beings. And, as for John Bul Dau, Panther Bior, and Daniel Abul Pach...each serves as a tribute to the nobility of humankind.
Watch this film.