If I were a real writer, this would be called a fluff piece.
I found time for a few movies lately and came across two with some very loose connections to autism. At least I saw some connections. If you don’t, please remember that this is a fluff piece.
The first was a movie for the kids. My wife called me late one Friday afternoon at work and asked me to stop and buy a movie called Hoodwinked on the way home. I had never heard of it, had trouble finding it, and was not very impressed with what I could glean from the DVD case. Boy was I wrong.
Hoodwinked tells a familiar tale, the one of Little Red Riding Hood, from four different points of view. We first see Red’s story, than the wolf’s perspective, then the woodsman’s, and finally Grandma shares her tale. All the story telling is done for the benefit of the police and a detective trying to solve a crime. As the character’s tales intersect, we see multiple views of the same moments, each time from the perspective of a different participant.
The movie is a relatively low budget computer generated film. Nonetheless, it’s the most creative CG film I’ve seen since Toy Story. While Pixar has continued to push the limits of CG movies, Hoodwinked relies on a subtler approach to entertain by using clever dialog and creatively allowing the pieces of the story to be revealed. The boys watched the movie at least a dozen times and I enjoyed it each time I watched with them. They even played it a few time with the director’s commentary which is almost as entertaining as the movie.
The autism connection was simply an appreiciation of the approach of showing experiences from different perspectives. Generalizing across different situations is a weak area for my youngest. Interestingly, listening to the director’s comments probably helped him make connections that he would not otherwise have made. The learning opportunities are hardly earth shattering, but they are there, along with a lot of laughs.
The second movie is one for me: Serenity. Serenity is a movie based on a wonderfully written, beautifully acted, and poorly marketed TV series called Firefly that ran on Fox for about half a season a few years back. I never saw it until after it was cancelled and only truly discovered it within the past year, when I got the series on DVD and loved it so much that I had to buy the movie.
I doubt the movie stands on its own without the TV series as a the back story. And the series was admittedly unusual. It’s a futuristic western with a ensemble cast living onboard a spaceship. The crew includes former soldiers, a preacher, a pilot who plays with toy dinosaurs, a woman paid for her companionship, and a guy who never seems to have enough weapons. The crew spends most of their time making a meager living by smuggling shipments past the government. The show is filled with incredibly witty diaglogue, some of which happens to be in Mandarin. OK, maybe I understand why Fox blew the marketing.
The autism connection in this movie centers around two characters. A seventeen year old girl named River joins the crew with her brother. River displays many characteristics that remind me of autism. She’s not autistic. She’s been the subject of neurlogical experiments by the government and her brother, a physician, rescues her and tries to help her cope with the changes brought on by the experiments. Again, this is not autism, it’s fiction!
While it was some of River’s characteristics that first made me think of autism, it was actually the actions of her brother, Simon, that really hit home for me. While he is focused on ‘fixing’ things for his sister, his interaction with her is completely nurturing, supportive, and most of all respectful. Even while trying to protect her and cure her (again, this is not autism), he continually shows her an incredible amount of respect, discussing everything with her and allowing her to make decisions for herself. He treats her as a person. The crew catches on as well and midway through the movie the captain professes that the crew has risked their lives for the belief that she is “whole and not broken.”
While I recommend the movie, start with the series if your interested. It’s not for everyone, but it’s made me a Joss Whedon fan. And a browncoat.