recess radio program

2/09/04
Cross My Heart
    by John Cech

Brief sound clip

You're hearing part of the opening from a 1991 French movie called Cross My Heart. In it a group of fifth graders are singing a song to go with the crashing of their rhythm band. The words are, at least on the surface, complete nonsense:

How can you know whether or not you're dreaming
Pinch him, pinch him, show him that life is just a game . . . .
How can you know when it's really over,
When I don't know what game I'm playing
Pinch my cheek, pinch my arm, pinch my ear
So I'll wake up and see that everything's the same . . . .

The rhythm the kids beat out, helps them keep their balance in the chaos, and the song provides just the right opening philosophical chord for the movie, which is about Martin, whose mother has quietly died in her sleep. The boy can't bring himself to report her death -- he doesn't have any close relatives (his father abandoned them long ago) -- and he is afraid of being put in an orphange. His friends learn his secret and, crossing their hearts, they decide that they'll become his new family and protect him from a social services system that they neither understand nor trust. It's a tall order, since they must not only find a way to bury his mother, but also to shield their friend from the prying eyes of the authorities at the school and in the neighborhood.

It's a remarkable premise for a movie for young people, and the director Jacques Fansten again proves the general rule that no one portrays children better than the French -- with full sympathy, candor, and respect. While the situation may sound gruesome, it actually isn't. Still, you should be sure to watch this video with your children, and be prepared for some interesting discussions with them afterwards -- about matters of vital importance to you and, most certainly, to them -- like how to start making sense of that dream.

Today's program featured the following work:

Copyright 2004 John Cech

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