Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fugitive Pieces - For Love and For Life

Fugitive Pieces: For Love and For Life

It is said that humans crave three basic essentials, food, sleep, and love. Many would say that food and sleep are a necessity for survival, leaving love as a last priority. A tireless search for love can leave a person exhausted and hungry for the passion they need to give their life meaning. Throughout the film, Fugitive Pieces, the audience is captured by director, Jeremy Podeswa’s portrayal of Jakob’s lifelong search for the love that would make his heart whole again. After failing to find what is missing from his life in his own memories, his work, and his first wife, Alex, it becomes obvious that he needs real, passionate, all-consuming love to fill the void in his heart that the Nazis viciously ripped out when they killed his parents, and took his sister, Bella. Jeremy Podeswa shares a personal connection with Jakob’s journey. Podeswa inspiration is his father, an artistic man who is the only one of his immediate family to make it out of the Nazi camps alive. As a film writer, Jeremy Podeswa demonstrates his understanding of the significance of carefully helping the audience explore every aspect of Jakob’s journey in order to illuminate the importance of the love that is the driving force in life to move beyond a dark past and into a bright future.

Initially, Jakob tries to heal his own wounds by divulging himself in his past and his pain when he decides to write a book about his life and how he survived the holocaust both physically and emotionally. While doing this, he submerges himself in dark thoughts and memories that truly begin to haunt his mind, spirit, and heart. In his book Jakob explains, “To live with ghosts requires solitude” (Fugitive Pieces). Jakob believes that if he can get through his book and re-telling the horrors that he endured in his childhood, then he will be able to move on to bigger dreams and happier goals in life. Throughout this process, Jakob does not show any behavior that leads the audience to believe that he is on a path to redemption for his loss. His depression is only enhanced by reliving the misery of his abandonment. He states, “I long for the loss of memory, though I have tried to will my parents and Bella from my sleep, this will amounts to nothing, for my mind betrays me in a second, I’ve crossed an ocean and lived many years without them, yet I can feel Bella’s gentle fingers on my back, my fathers hand on my head, and suddenly I’m afraid and turn around in empty rooms” (Fugitive Pieces). Jakob’s psychological masochism of reliving his childhood pain does not fulfill his goal because he secludes himself from people, and ultimately love.

Podeswa shows us the way Jakob tortures himself with the constant flash backs of his childhood. In an interview with Moving Pictures Magazine, Podeswa describes himself as “a sensual film maker” and explains the way he uses sensory perception in his own film to take people back in time through Jakob’s memory (Moving Pictures Magazine). He emphasizes the memories of the terrorist acts of the Nazis against his own family, his scattered childhood lifestyle spent avoiding the Nazis, and his sister, Bella, playing the piano. The audience would think that the memories of the Nazis and their violence against his family would disturb Jakob and preoccupy his thoughts for the longest amount of time. However, it is the reoccurring images of Bella, as Jakob remembers her in scenes from his childhood and as she practically comes to life in front of him as an almost angelic figure, that prevent him from letting go of the anguish that was his childhood. Podeswa explains to Moving Pictures Magazine that visual beauty is something that is very important to him as a sensual film maker and he illustrates this in the way that he portrays Bella as a figure representing life and love (Moving Pictures Magazine).

By analyzing Jakob’s failed marriage to Alex, Podeswa is able to guide the audience through the depth of Jakob’s broken heart and his inability to love and be loved. The close-up examination of Jakob’s marriage to Alex explains how eliminating physical alienation does not and can not fulfill his loneliness. At one point in the film, Jakob explains “I tried to bury images, to cover them over with distractions with attempts at love.” When Jakob first meets Alex, he is distracted from his anguish by his immediate attraction to her philosophical image, her vivacious personality, and stunning outer beauty. He clearly finds her outgoing behavior finds foreign and intriguing. However, when her bright personality does not light up the dark shadows of his soul, Jakob finds himself pushing Alex away so that he can be alone with his “ghosts.” Although, they clearly have a strong physical relationship, it is their lack of spiritual connection that does not qualify Alex as the missing piece of the puzzle in Jakob’s life.

Podeswa is able to especially emphasize the downfall of the marriage when Alex discovers his journal and finally feels the anguish he lives everyday when she reads, “Alex never understands…thinks that she’s doing me good snatching me from the jaws of despair, rescuing me, but each time a memory or story slinks away it takes more of me with it. Everything is wrong, the bedroom, Alex beside me, my panic, how will Bella ever find me here, beside this strange woman, speaking this language, eating strange food, wearing these clothes?” (Fugitive Pieces) The room that this scene takes place in is dark, the music is somber, and the camera shot is close-up and pans in to focus on Alex losing herself in Jakob’s pain as if nothing else exists in the world (Media Know All). This technique exemplifies the epitome that Alex is having about her husband, her marriage, and herself. Podeswa uses lighting, music, and camera angles to capture the emotional impact of every moment throughout the film.

Jakob’s search is completed when he meets and falls in love with Michaela. She brings light into the world of darkness he has been living in because she embraces his journey. She is not afraid of his history and loves him for everything that he is and everything that he has been. Jakob writes about Michaela in a different way than he writes about Alex and states, “What do our bodies make us believe? That we’re never ourselves until we contain two souls. Now, I’m not afraid when harvesting darkness. Night after night, it is happiness that wakes me. There is room at last for everyone I have ever loved. As Michaela approaches, I shake like a compass needle, feeling for a first time a future. My words, my life, no longer separate” (Fugitive Pieces). With this, the audience knows that Jakob’s tiresome search has come to an end with Michaela because he is no longer tired, he is no longer hungry, and he is able to love another person with his entire heart.

Podeswa uses sensual techniques to make the audience feel the love Jakob and Michaela share and why that has ultimately healed his heart and soul (Film Festival). When Jakob and Michaela are touching each other, whether it is holding hands on the streets of Greece or when they are making love in the romantic lighting of their bedroom, Podeswa uses extreme close up angles (Media Know All). This evokes the sense of feeling among the audience, as well as illustrating his new found comfort in his own skin. Before they make love, Jakob describes the different scents and tastes of Michaela’s body. This technique, like many Podeswa uses throughout Fugitive Pieces, captivates the audience with the sensual evoking of emotion. These techniques are important because they bring the audience into the film as if it is their own reality.

The combination of Jakob’s meaningful lifelong journey with the methods of film making used by Jeremy Podeswa create a film that truly is sensual. The brilliance of Fugitive Pieces is that it truly evokes every type of human sense and emotion as the audience gets lost in the most important journey of life, the journey for love.


Media Know All. Wilson, Karina. "Sound, Lighting, Camera Angles." 2005. Web.15 Jul 2009. .

2007 Toronto International Film Festival. “Interview with Jeremy Podeswa.“ 2007. Web.15 Jul 2009. .

Fugitive Pieces. (Film). 2007. Jeremy Podeswa

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