What movies are you watching for the holidays? Most people are more likely to think along the lines of movie classics like It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) or the more modern The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and megastar Jim Carrey’s forthcoming Walt Disney blockbuster, A Christmas Carol when it comes to considering films to enjoy with one’s family during the holidays.
However, a number films do a very good job at representing and
reinforcing those values celebrated during the holiday season while not
necessarily focusing on Santa Claus squeezing down a chimney or a
roasted turkey and sweet potato pies.
The holidays in general tend to center around strengthening such
universal values as positive cultural and spiritual traditions,
friendships, love, loyalty, and much-needed shots at second chances.
Three movies that embody these themes in entertaining and emotionally
moving ways, but are not part of the holiday film genre, are: Sylvain
White’s Stomp the Yard, Jordan Walker-Pearlman’s Constellation, and Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi.
Constellations of Love and Pain
It is interesting to note that the movie Constellation was first screened in 2005, just after the Academy Award-winning Crash. And like Crash, it provides a penetrating look into how race relations have influenced the American character. But unlike Crash, it gives much more credit to the role that love has played in developing that character.
Poster for the movie "Constellation."
Director-writer Jordan Walker-Pearlman opens his film with a quote
from Jeffery Seaver in which the author observes that between love and
death, "Love is more powerful and lasts longer." The film attempts to
prove that point by tracing the history of an interracial relationship
and its painfully mixed impact upon the lives of the couple involved as
well as their family and friends. It stars veteran actor Billie Dee
Williams, Lesley Ann Warren, Rae Dawn Chong, Clarence Williams III, Hill
Harper, and Zoe Saldana.
Actress Zoe Saldana. (AP photo release by Koji Sasahara)
Relationship is a key word for this movie, as it tends to be during
the holidays, because the "Constellation" referred to by the title more
than anything else is indeed a constellation, or a grouping, of deeply
intimate interactions. Relationships between lovers, between brothers
and sisters, between friends, between Blacks and Whites, and between the
past and the present.
Walker-Pearlman weaves these relationships together and explores
their human depths with sheer mastery set to a mesmerizing score of
America's classical music forms, including jazz, gospel, American
classic, folk, and rap. In his vision of America, specifically the U.S.,
racial antagonism comprises only a fraction of what has bound Blacks
and Whites together. They have also been bound by shared culture,
history, tragedies, triumphs, and blood.