Saturday, 8 October 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (and me)

On Monday October 3rd 2016 I went to see Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children at the Cineworld Bolden in 3D using the monthly subscription for the first time in the month.  As a Black card holder, issued after one year of Red card membership I gain 25% on food, drink, sweets and ices purchased from the cinema instead of the first year 10% in addition to the 25% reduction available from three onsite restaurant chains. I have not checked the position of the coffee shop within the cinema building as I prefer the coffee from the onsite Macdonalds. We used to gain free attendance at Relays but with their expansion and price increases all card holders get a reduction of at least 50%, similarly the premium for 3D films appears to have been removed for everyone and the number of 3D version of films also appears reduced and those still being released concentrate on providing a clarity of depth rather than a constant barrage of things flying out from the screen at you. Despite the astronomical cost of buying extras at the Pics these days with my card I can still have a one scoop tub of the flavour of the month ice cream for under £1.40 although this is limited to a once a month a treat as also the half price sweets and quarter price popcorn from the neighbouring supermarket are banned in the effort to get below 16 stone by New Year and for the first time in a decade.

 I was attracted to seeing the film for two reasons. I like the concept of Peculiar Children, preferring this to the politically correct terms for children who are at the ends of the spectrum of the norm. As a child before going to school I did not know I was different except that I did not have a mother or father but lived with six aunties one of whom was married with five and then six children. Because those first five years covered the second world war, I knew terror, not directly in the sense of death or permanent disability from the bombing and the rockets but because the aunties were in a constant state of fear clutching their Rosaries and reciting the Hail Marys and Our Father endlessly while we waited in the Anderson Shelter. I retain a vivid memory of a V1 rocket, these flew lower and lower than the V2, as the siren went in daytime and I could see the rocket coming towards, cutting out and falling before it reached but I did not equate this with the potential pain and sorrow had it reached.  I came to know pain briefly when a nail in the Shelter pierced my upper leg and I had to be taken to hospital with the scar only disappearing decades later. It is possible to remember but without a clear chronology, events which can be said with hindsight to mark a growing awareness of being different, of feeling an inarticulate understanding of what was being said and happening in the adult world, a sense of be different and separate. The head teacher of the Catholic Preparatory Day school I attended gave me a letter when I left aged 12 having been made two stay two years in one class before failing the 11 plus and it was only before my 60th birthday that I learned what that letter meant, the first and only letter I was to receive until applying for a job at the age of 16.

Nor can I remember now when I commenced to read about psychology and whether this was before or after I stayed in prison for six month knowing that I could leave at any time but it was from studying psychology part of in Public and Social Administration as part of the Oxford University Diploma in public and Social Administration and Home office arranged and funded  attendance at a child care training course at Birmingham University that I developed a Freudian and not a Behaviour understanding of my development from child to adult. Another two decades were to pass before I learned than my brain wiring was different from that of other people and what other aspects of being different meant, particularly in terms of relationships with others and a potential role in society.

So from almost the point of being aware of the separateness of others I felt but could not explain why I regarded as different seeing the world differently. Because of the choices made as a young adult who choose to leave school at sixteen years and work rather than attempt the sixth form and to get to a seminary to be a catholic priest, staying in prison for six months, rejecting the alternative to prison offered, switching from a diploma course in Politics and Economics to a social work base course in public and social administration which included psychology and then undertaking another university and  Home Office approved and sponsored course in social work as a child care officer, I first explained myself to myself as consequence of having been brought up first as an orphan by aunties who spoke a different language which they did not  teach me, because of being raised as secret child with  fundamentalist  Catholic  beliefs,  then  because of the perspective  of  fundamentalist  Freudians and Behaviourists, as an anti-totalitarian, anti-capitalist  anti-fascist pro Satyagraha socialist and only in my forties explained myself because of my physiology and brain being wired differently from others.

Despite the various explanations of why I thought I was behaving, feeling and thinking as I have done and do, I have always retained the belief in having behavioural and decision making choices but understood that the freedom to exercise choice was limited by the absence of freedom from. In my early twenties I agreed in part with the view of Erich Fromm that every child should have the opportunity to develop their innate and acquired abilities and interests to their maximum potential but not that these were natural or God given but depended on the form of state and government in which one was raised and worked and that the concept of being a subject of a state, region, community and tribe, and in which one is in part dependent, is valid and that in reality all men and (women)  are not borne equal or able to function as equals.

There has always been a role for the Wild Duck, the thirteenth at table, the child who asked why the King was wearing no clothes, together with Alice and Peter Pans, just as there remains a role for the self-sacrifice of a seer, missionary, soldier or spy.

Because of viewing human life and society from the perspective of the creative artist as well as from, constitutional government, politics and economics, and from science and academic research,  I have watched and re-watched the most popular film series of the past decades all centring on children with missions because of unique and special powers –  The Alice in Wonderlands, The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, Harry Potter and the X  men and women and it was thus I went to see Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. I like Peculiar because it sums up how society in general treats children who are different. a threat, fear and hate, instead of special and a valuable social resource.

As in this film, a feature of the other film series mentioned is that the heroes and heroines do not know they are special and are often protected by those who understand their potential because of the knowledge of how society and other children will react. The protective desire to give children the opportunity to be viewed by others as normal is responsible and is part of age old question about at what point do you  explain to a child they have been adopted, they are illegitimate, one of their parents  is  another, a  parent was a murderer, committed  suicide, mad, a traitor, a professional  criminal, bisexual, a paedophile or other sex offender or the basics of sex as well as the reality of adult relationship, the different view of a God or no God?

The main subject of this film is a normal boy where it is grandfather (Terence Stamp) who fills his head about a children’s home where the adolescent children all have unique special powers who face a threat from monsters. The boy, Jake, grows up and as a teenager is called from work by someone concerned that his grandfather is suffering from dementia but his grandfather urges him not attend but Jake ignores the advice finds the grandfather at death’s door but able to imparts request to find a bird, a loop and the significance of a date during World War II, which transpires to be the date of a German bombing raid which destroys the Children’s Home and those in it. The bird? It is no plot spoiler to mention the title again Miss Peregrine, or that the loop involves the concept of time being circular as well as linear. Jake also sees an apparition in the form of a monster, the head monster in fact, played by Samuel L Jackson, who is also a shape shifter and where a description of his roles in the film would be plot spoilers.[CS1] 

Reminding of the relatives of Harry Potter who brought him up in a cupboard under the stairs, and of my own childhood where I would be banished to silence for hours in an upstairs bedroom when relatives and friends of the aunties visited, Jake is made to attend sessions with a psychiatrist to overcome the trauma of his experience, his grief at the loss of his grandfather and what  he views as a waking nightmare, something which I also experienced as a child, when ill and also of a consuming devil subsequently made similarly real by the latest CGI techniques in a film whose name I cannot immediately remember. The Psychiatrist is played by former West Wing Whitehouse media officer Allison Janney.  She becomes the bridge between what he believes he witnessed and his rationality and agrees to him going to island of the Children’s Home as a way of re-establishing reality and achieving closure.

Jake is taken to the Island off the coast of Wales by his rejecting father played by Chris O’Dowd where another aspect of his character, his perpetual innocence and naivety comes to the fore (again something which I am able to identify). Fortunately, he is able to visit the site of the former Children’s Home and enter the time loop which protects them, meeting Miss Peregrine and the adolescents who all have different powers but are divided between those of normal appearance and CGI adapted creations. They re-live in a protected enjoyable form of Groundhog Day but aware of a threat from what can be described as Fallen Angles and another Jekyll and Hyde experiment gone wrong. Jake becomes aware that he has a special role to play in not only the continuing protection of the children but the survival of other special children at other locations in protected environments and that the threat from the role played by Jackson and his associate shape shifters spells the end of everyone in a gruesome way so that this is not a film for children despite its title. It is no give away that Jake is successful and the special ones learn how to protect themselves in the future and the setting of great battle in Blackpool is noteworthy one of the great holiday playgrounds of the last century before the freedoms of the sixties left the town to become one of the drink, drug and sex pleasure grounds of western Europe. The film ends with Jake faced with the choice of living in reality of the present or locked within a circular past romantically happy. Judi Dench plays one of the associates of Miss Peregrine.

The Associates can be regarded as Priests and Priestesses with leadership duties and responsibilities which sets them apart even from those they teach, care and protect and which means they are unable to lead what is presented in the media and also in the arts as normal lives.

The film is based on the three novels by Ransome Riggs with the second called Hollow City and the third, Library of Souls The original intention of Riggs was to create a graphic novel and this was adapted by Cassandra Jean and published in 2013.

Possessing 3D glasses the cost to me booking on line as a senior would have been £7.36 offset as part of a monthly subscription of £17.40

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