What I learned about father and son relationships through film.

Arguably the strongest bond of any relationship between two human begins, more than; the husband and wife, more than two sister and even more than a mother and her daughter. The strongest of all bonds is the one shared between a father and his son. The father being the mentor, whose job it is to help his son, to guide his son through the unsteady, turbulent and sometimes painful sea that is life. His kind words of encouragements must act as sails boats to guide us into man hood, and if it need by, with a hand around the shoulder and a simple “everything will be okay”, when we need it most, with a life raft it prevents us from sinking under the tidal waves of high expectation. But that was simply my initial interpretations of this complex and often profound relationship. But since then from the five films below, watching and exploring each in greater detail, in turns they have added a whole new and original dimension and open my eyes to the true nature of this often miss understood relationship. But what is truly a good father and son relationship and what does it look like?
“Bicycle Thieves” (1948)
For me one of the most defining father and son relationship is cinema, so deep and powerful is it, that it comes as an entire shook to actually find out they are not actual father and son in real life, such was the poetic and sometimes inspirational journey we were taken on by father and son. The Bicycle Thieves tells the tale a father and son ember king on a relentless pursuit of thieves to retrieve the bike that was stolen from them, the bike is of great importance, as the father deeply needs it to travel to work to provide money and most importantly food for his poor starving family. The father and son relationship is of one united in the pursuit of justice, instead of just telling his son that life is about fighting for what’s right, and doing anything for your family, the father demonstrates it through his tenacious desire to do what’s right for his family, his son learns an everlasting lesson of what is takes to be a man, which is truth, courage and determination.
“Finding Nemo” (2003)
Probably the most famous and popular father and son relationships of the last decade – and their fish! Finding Nemo tells the story of an overprotective father who must overcome his fears to rescue his son. This relationship in terms of moral gain, is similar to Bicycle Thieves but differs in a sense it applies the same level of courage and determination required to succeed, but places them in a much more timid character, but who has far more to lose, making his journey all the more powerful. But what this tells us more about a father and son relationship is that you don’t have to be a big, strong and courage’s alpha male all the time, like Baba in the Kite Runner, you need to be able to do whatever it takes to protect your family when the time comes. And we see this realisation through the eyes of his son, as he sees his father take on a massive transformation that he originally never saw coming.
“The Godfather” (1972)
In what is quite possibly the only film, that will ever receive; commercial success, critical acclaim and innumerable pop culture reference on such a grand level, The Godfather will go down as one of the greatest films of all time. But the one aspect of the film that truly takes centre stage, is the father son relationship exhibited between Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. A slightly darker telling of your traditional father and son relationship, as its one consumed with a sons destructive desire to gain his father’s approval, to only latter seek to get out of his shadow and eventually take all that is his. This father and relationship carries a less obvious message, instead interweaved carefully through their actions. As the viewer, we are required to observe, connect the dots and ultimately learn from their flawed characters and negative experiences, rather than have the answer all laid out for us on our plate.
“The Lion King” (1994)
My personal favourite father and son relationship, the lion king is based around the lives of Mustafa and his son Simba, who is next in lion to take over his father position of the king of the savannah. So his entire young life, his wasn’t scared to emphasizing the fact that one day he won’t be around to protect his son, so he must learn to be strong and just. This acts as almost a foreshadowing to subsequent events of his father’s death that was far too prematurely in the development of Simba. The Lion King shows us through this beautifully constructed story, that for a father to really do his job right, has to teach his son probably the greatest lesson of them all, the lesson of not needing a father and being able to stand on your own two feet, with pride and respect for those above and below you.
To kill mockingbird (1962)
A nigh-on perfect, eloquent and intelligent lawyer seeks to uphold what is true and just, in a world that seeks to abuse and belittle a whole race of people, as he puts it upon himself to protect a black man in court against the bigoted arm of injustice.
Not strictly just a father and son relationship, there is also a daughter added to the mix, but purely on the fact that Atticus Finch is a father anyone child would love to have, to kill a mockingbird makes the list , a fact I won’t apologise for because for me Atticus is universally regarded as the best father in either film or even literature, as with stern love and mostly importantly education, he teaches his children to love in a world full of hate, and for me that’s the greatest lesson any father could teach his children.
In a generation of children growing up for the very first time, without real father figures in the their life; may it be down to the increase in sexual promiscuity or the high levels of marriages ending in divorce, but despite whatever the reason may be, it is a comforting fact to know, that once again film shines a bright light in our dark lives, offering us a beacon of hope, a beacon of truth and a beacon of inspiration. So in a world of fatherless young men, maybe film can be the guidance they need through that difficult transition into manhood.


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