The biggest aspect that comes to mind when thinking about the movie Fugitive Pieces is the great emphasis it has on memories. Memories are the basis for the whole story. The memories that the main character Jakob encounters are rarely pleasant, but he learns various ways to cope with the memories that constantly flood his brain. The movie even provokes the audience to remember their own personal memories, even if it has nothing to do with loss. While previewing the film I was personally flooded with various memories that I have of my parents who have both passed on. Fugitive Pieces is a very powerful film when it comes to touching basis on the concept of memory and this view is shared in a journal article and a poem I found written by Elrud Ibsch and Averil Stedford. Both authors give their own take on the original novel written by Anne Michaels and give their own take on the power of memories.
Memories are very powerful when it comes to recalling them. Memories can cause various emotions to arise in a person when they are reminded of the memory. This is shown in Fugitive Pieces when the story of Jakob is told. Jakob’s life revolves around the memories that he has of his childhood and the tremendous loss he faces when his parents and sister are killed by the Nazis. The memories Jakob has of his traumatic event haunt him every night in his dreams. These memories not only haunt Jakob, but they help him grow and become an amazing writer. It is stated by Elrud Ibsch in the journal “Comfort And Scandal of Memory” about memory, “Anne Michaels tells the story of loss, describing the pain, necessity and healing power of memory” (Ibsch 1). The memories Jakob have help him feel the pain that he needs to feel to go through the healing process of his loss, even though the healing process takes him a long time.
The healing process that Jakob goes through is contributed to writing. Jakob’s mentor Athos was an archeologist and he documented everything in journals. Athos proposes to Jakob when he is a young boy that he should express his dreams and memories through the power of writing. In the end Jakob finds comfort in keeping many journals and eventually publishes a book. It is stated by Elrud Ibsch, “In Anne Michael’s novel, memory eventually brings faith, love, strength and the power to write poetry” (Ibsch 3). Jakob writes beautiful poetry about his feelings and about the memories that he remembers. The words he prints on paper become his therapy as the memories begin to surface. This concept is expressed in a poem called “The Healing Pen”, written by Averil Stedford, which states:
“Writing can be a powerful therapy. It raises curtains, brings the past to light. Often what I write surprises me. Dreams and fears that linger threateningly. Appear in a new light in black and white. Writing can be powerful therapy.”
Just like it is stated in the poem, writing can be a therapy that some people need, like Jakob, to express the memories they have when talking about them is too hard.
While viewing Fugitive Pieces I was reminded of my own memories I have of my parents who have passed on. My mother passed away when I was six in a car accident and my father passed away when I was twenty after having a heart attack in his sleep. Both events were traumatic to me and were hard events to come to peace with. Just like Jakob, I was haunted by memories of my parents that would take my breath away and make me instantly feel sorrow. I have come to terms with both deaths now and I realize that I must push on to make them proud. The memories that once gave me so much pain still bring a tear every once in a while, but also make me smile.
The fondest memory I have of my mother is when she would get me ready for school in the morning. I have never been a big morning person and I use to pretend I was still a sleep when my mother would come in to wake me up. She would simply pick me up out of bed and set me in a chair that sat in the corner of my room and give me my favorite cereal bar. In order to eat the cereal bar I would have to open my eyes and see what I was doing. This method always worked and got the mornings started around the house. My mother would always do my hair in the mornings and would dress me in matching outfits. She took pride in presenting me looking nice, even if I was just going to go to school and get all messy from playing outside during recess. My hair would always be done up in a sideways ponytail or decorated with various barrettes in the same color as my clothing. Looking back I can’t help but laugh. Looking back though also makes me realize how much she loved me and took care of me.
A memory that was recalled about my father while watching Fugitive Pieces is a simple one, but a very powerful memory. My father was a very caring man and he loved me more than anything in the world. I would be reminded of this and still do to this day from various family members. My dad had a ritual of always coming into my room in the morning before leaving for work, even when I was older and in high school, to give me a kiss on the forehead and tell me he loved me. I would usually still be a sleep and I wouldn’t wake, but he still did it to show how much he cared for me. My father was never afraid to show his love for me and before I would leave to go anywhere I would always get a hug and an “I love you” before leaving the house. It is just the simple memories that bring back the most emotion. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about these particular memories, but while watching Fugitive Pieces these memories came back and the pain of loss came back as well with them.
Fugitive Pieces was a magnificent movie with a powerful message. Memories can be powerful means for pain and suffering, but can also empower someone to heal from a traumatic experience and move on. Jakob is a prime example of someone who is haunted by his memories, but finds therapy in writing about them and helps heal from them. While watching Fugitive Pieces you cant help but recall your own personal memories and experience the emotion they once gave you. Fugitive Pieces was a wonderful movie and well worth the resurfacing memories, even if they did bring back old emotions.
A Jay. Journal of Medical Ethics.: Medical Humanities London:Jun 2003. Vol. 29, Iss. 1, p. 21
Ibsch, Elrud. Journal of Modern Jewish Studies; Jul2006, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p203-212, 10p