I watched three movies in two days, all French, all subtitles. Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas), Vipere au Poing (Viper in the Fist) and Le Coeur des Hommes (Men’s Heart). I enjoyed Viper in the Fist the most, memoirs of a wonderful childhood came to an abrupt end and turned into a living nightmare, but at times filled with cracking funny moments.
Vipere au Poing (Viper in the Fist), based on the novel by Herve Bazin, is the memoir of Jean Rezeau. Living with his grandmother, he was enjoying his childhood with his elder brother Freddy. The grandmother passed away and their parents came back from Indochina with a new brother Marcel. They quickly found out that their mother, Paule was a cold and terrible woman who was incapable of love and compassion. She hated them and extremely abusive and cruel to them, especially to Jean.
So he rebelled against his mother. Jean led all resistance efforts among the brothers against their mother, including two attempts to murder her, which failed miserably. Later he ran away to Paris to seek refuge with his maternal grandfather, who was a senator. Jean’s short stay in Paris made him realized how lonely and love-deprived his mother’s childhood had been, resulting her being such as a mother. And realizing this he knew that his mother could no longer hurt him anymore, his anger turned into pity. Suddenly the mother was not such a villain anymore.
Perhaps it was truly bad parenting. Perhaps it was generation gap. Suddenly I remembered of how a friend said he had been away from home for so long that his values diverge so much from his parents that they will never meet, as they almost do not see anything and everything eye to eye. I think we will hardly ever see thing eye to eye with our parents. They will always be the know-it-alls to us and we will always be the know-nothings to them. Somehow both parties can never be able to see that, however old and wise we are. Perhaps the parents are blinded by love and devotion while the children are blinded by guilt and fear.
In the end, Jean left for boarding school and never again saw and spoke to his mother, until her dying moment, years later. He thought he won but why was he not happy? Maybe his mother was victorious for he bore with him the distrust, hatred and angst his whole life. He remembered he caught a viper at the courtyard when he was young and he choked it to death. In fact he was holding that viper in his fist all his life.