IT MUST BE HEAVEN (2019)

21st. July 2021

A massive event in my  life. My husband has a heart attack and a couple of strokes/ 2 weeks in hospital and self discharge with a couple of replacement body bits…. Luckily younger daughter had arrived just as I called the ambulance and took over. 

 Since my diagnosis years ago it was assumed that my husband would be my carer  and he was a very good one. The roles were suddenly reversed. Arrangements were made for our needs and we managed a quiet and boring life in isolation from family and friends. I gave up any personal activity and I wondered if I should join the dementia sites. 

I decided that my experience of being ignored by my friends  was worth writing about and read by the people who read my film blog  rather than the special readers interested in dementia. 

The diagnosis of my dementia had the effect of me disappearing from the people I knew. Apart from a couple of very good friends and a cousin who corresponds with me, the rest of people I shared an interest with for years in meetings and discussions, holidays,  just erased me from their consciousness. 

Never a direct mail to me. Never an enquiry to my husband about me or a mail asking me how I was coping. Of course I felt guilty of my own behaviour when I found the difficulty of corresponding or visiting a friend I worked with on old age and films…..   

Now that the situation is more settled I tried to go back to my blog. Last week we viewed “It must be heaven”.   I just could not follow the meanings of the film at all and went to sleep.  A film that should have been of interest to me , directed by a well known Palestinian director: Elia Suleiman.   I decided to view it again in the morning when I am more alert.  I took notes of  the different scenes. 

Amazingly I did read their meanings  and deep references and the film made sense.   

Will I be able to follow this technique with other films? 

But first of all I must try the transcription of my notes and see if they make sense . 

Had a look at my notes and wondered how to deal with such complex scenes and subjects. After a try to reach the issues that I found most important to me, I decided to restrict my analysis to those that I found personally interesting. 

It was possible do divide the film in 4 parts. 

1- Palestine 

2- Paris

3- New York.  

4- Conclusion 

Personally I felt that the Palestine section was the most important to understand and decided to restrict myself to analysing this first section…. 

I had a look at the notes that I took while watching the film.  

The most difficult to interpret  but the most meaningful were the first scenes. For me they were the most emotional and meaningful since I lived my youth in Beirut.  

1- Palestine: the first scene is of a very well attended Christian ceremony. A huge crowd led by a priest is trying to enter a locked church. The  lead priest  (I am not versed in Palestinian Christian sects) comes to the rescue. He takes his head cover off,  goes to the back of the church and with a noise of forced bangs opens the door. For me there was no doubt that these scenes expressed the presence of a resistant Christian population in Palestine . 

I will not describe the events in any order but will extract the story and how I interpret the scenes.

2- The balcony. As in many Middle Eastern buildings the balcony is a very important space where social life and events take place. It is from this vantage point that our main character observes the street and the garden.  A man politely excuses himself for cutting some branches and explains that the lemon  trees need pruning…  

3- In the interior of the house, he is seen watering his little tree, checking the clock, examining photos in the bedside drawer. We realise that the flat showing  disabled people’s  implements belonged to  the recently deceased parents. The bedside table showed a Virgin Mary.   Later the chairs and packing boxes are put in the back of a van that hurries away. 

4- As he walks in the street a group of menacing young men holding threatening sticks rush ahead. They pass by without touching him. Again our fear is dismissed. 

5- Outside the house the man visits the cemetery.  Another hint to take us to the past. 

6 – The  interior of a cafe and  morose two men and one woman around a table : the owner is called and accused of serving a sour meal to the woman. The calm and pleasant owner explains that the taste is due to wine. Accused then to serve alcohol he calmly explains that it is not people who imbibed the alcohol but the chicken that was cooked with the food. The altercation finishes with  a drink for all. Is it alcohol that they drink? 

7- The street and neighbours:  An old man with a hunting rifle accosts our character and tells him the story of an encounter he had  with a menacing huge bird and a snake.  He saves the snake by shooting the bird and later he sees the snake greeting him and blowing up the deflated wheel of his car. 

8- The town square:  a group of women look at the back of a woman spread in a cross shape against a ruined wall. 

There is a quiet feeling in the square. A couple of relaxed policemen next to their motor bike. A man loaded with cameras and other modern equipment is accosted by two policemen. Once again we fear for the man we follow. They only would like to borrow his binoculars. The only character that  intrigued me and that I do not understand is  a young man with a damaged eye  (seen before in the street) who finishes  his drink, pees and throws the bottle against the water fountain….    

9. It is raining heavily.  A very old man is peeing against the wall and distressed seems to think that the rain water is produced by himself and says that he cannot stop the flow and that this has  never happened to him before. He is approached by our main character who gently explains the situation to him and invites hime to walk with him under the umbrella. 

The end of the first sequences sees the departure  of the man to France and the USA in order to sell a film script. His drive is very familiar to me. Long stretches of dry land interrupt olive trees groves and Cactus plants *  

 A woman in traditional clothes carries on her head a classical shaped container that she puts on the ground in exchange for another. At the end of the film this ritual is changed. I did not grasp the deep meaning of this sequences. Help me if you can. 

2- Paris

3- New York.

I have not done justice to the first sequences of the film but I wanted to express my reactions to scenes after scenes where fear is expressed but not justified. 

The next parts of the film,  Paris and NewYork are easier to interpret. My impressions are that Paris themes are beautiful women, selfishness,  and powerful weapons of war. 

As for New York after the abundance of people with armaments there is an atmosphere of fantasy.  Big supermarkets full of goods and chases in a beautiful park. 

Both these episodes are easy to interpret and analyse. 

In both countries his attempts at presenting his script are rejected. The rejections are very different. in style. In France  the rejection is explained in long sentences that signified that the story is not Palestinian enough. In the USA his presence is just ignored by an attractive woman, in favour of his friend who did introduce him. 

The last episode is the consultation with a 

fortune teller who predicts: Yes there will be a Palestine but…… not in your Lifetime . 

*I am told that in Israel young men are called Sabra the Hebrew word for the plant because they are prickly on the outside and tender and sweet on the inside….. 

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
This entry was posted in Ageing. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to IT MUST BE HEAVEN (2019)

  1. Rina you are an inspiration
    Mish (Daniela’s friend)

  2. Mari says:

    You know that I don’t comment on blogs generally, Rina but I am so pleased that you are doing this. It is very important to make your voice heard by people other than those in a similar situation. Talk soon. Much love, Mari

  3. Glenda Hemken says:

    Rinaross Just sending straight love for old times sake f but what else is there ? rom the wheelchair bound stroke victim It’s hard to keep going Glenda Hemken

    >

  4. jhg44 says:

    Bravo Rina. So important posting your words especially about the experience and pain of losing friends since your diagnosis. COVID has made things so much worse for old, ill and disabled people – another swathe of inequality – but at bottom there’s so much fear about these things. Doesn’t Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal attempt to address all this?
    Thinking about films there’s a new one called Old. It’s described as a science fiction, horror, thriller and it’s about a place where people age rapidly in order to speed up the time it takes to complete randomised controlled studies on new medicines. How much terror can you pack into one film???

    Thanks you for the tip about the Sulieman film. Sue, Liz and I are watching it together this week. Maybe we can discuss on your blog?
    Love Jane x

  5. Rita Ferris-Taylor says:

    Dear Rina
    So sorry to hear about Leon and hope he is on the mend. How are you managing?
    Thinking of you and sorry it has been such an isolating time and that I have not been in touch much. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. Maybe can meet up for tea and chat now restrictions are easing. Am messaging here because near the beginning of the pandemic my old laptop failed and I lost all my email address book so no longer have yours, therefore cannot email your privately.
    All the best
    Rita Ferris-Taylor
    rita.ft@virginmedia.com

  6. serge.sommer@free.fr says:

    Bonjour Rina,

    Nous nous étions rencontrés il y a plusieurs années lors d’un Festival de cinéma intergénérationnel près de Lyon “Lumière Blanche” (qui n’existe plus depuis) Je parle un peu anglais mais ne comprends pas tout, pas toutes les finesses du langage

    Je crois comprendre cependant que votre mari a eu de graves soucis de santé, et vous aussi, et que certains de vos amis se sont détournés Ce sont des choses qui arrivent

    Je vous envoie un petit message de soutien Je vous souhaite le meilleur rétablissement possible et une vie heureuse et apaisée Continuez à partager avec nous votre amour et passion du Cinéma

    Au plaisir de vous lire

    Cordialement

    Serge Sommer

    Le 2021-07-23 10:01, Old Age and Feature Films a écrit : > rinaross posted: ” 21st. July 2021 A massive event in my life. My > husband has a heart attack and a couple of strokes/ 2 weeks in > hospital and self discharge with a couple of replacement body bits…. > Luckily younger daughter had arrived just as I called the ambulanc” > >

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