Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dekalog 4- "Honor Your Father and Mother"

As we saw earlier, the ten commandments are often used to be a “title” for a group of commands.  In the Bible, “Honor your father and mother” is just another way of saying respect or obey all authority.  The father, especially, is the backbone of patriarchal society, so if one does not obey one’s father, then all kinds of rebellion and immorality are possible.  Rebelling against and shaming one’s parents are punished severely in the Old Testament law, even to the degree of killing an older son who gets drunk a lot.

In this episode, the idea being explored is not, “isn’t there a moral way to break this command”, but rather exploring the idea of honor, and pushing the edge of the envelope.

Anna has always lived with her father, Micah and has known no other parent, since her mother died just after she was born.  We see them have a fun relationship, without much discipline, but Anna is a good kid, grown now and reliable.  She is also thinking about marrying her boyfriend.  Then she finds a letter in her father’s desk which says, “To be opened after I pass away.”  Of course, curiosity gets the best of her, and she opens it only to find another envelope addressed to her from her deceased mother. 

After this is opened, the questions brought up in this film get deep and serious.  (Alert, spoilers here:) If a parent isn’t a biological parent, what are the responsibilities?  May a child then rebel?  If one finds that a parent isn’t a biological parent, what do you call the love between the parent and the child?  Could it be erotic, romantic? Does every relationship between a father and a grown daughter have an element of eroticism in it?  

These questions are so difficult, I am surprised the filmmakers were allowed to explore this direction, let alone put it on public television.  Incest, of course, is forbidden by the Bible and religions and law… but if there is no biology, then is it really incest?  Then the film brings up the next question: what if there is no evidence to say whether a parent and child are related… if sexual desire is spoken between them, what is to happen then?

Many forbidden questions here, and no answers.  This episode is equal parts frustrating and fascinating. 

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