(For SI blog reader Gandhiji & his/her/their many avatars)
We live in an age when the trivial, insignificant, repetitive and talentless often triumphs over talent, the original and the substantive.
And never more so than in the movie business.
Movie after movie (be it Indian or Hollywood) has either love or action as their raison d’etre (and invariably with two bit actors who can’t emote to save their lives and third-rate writers who vomit all over the screenplay).
As if there’s nothing more to life than love or jumping from one tall building to another!
To that elusive category, comes the made for TV HBO film Temple Grandin (2010) directed by Mick Jackson.
If you ask us what the movie is all about, we’d respond that it’s about the triumph over adversity.
Nature makes most babies along similar lines, but once in a while nature takes a break and then the conveyor belt breaks down resulting in babies with oddities like cleft palate, autism et al.
You know those babies, the world in its infinite cruelty labels freaks.
By now, you schmucks know where we are heading, right?
Temple Grandin is a slightly fictionalized biopic about an eponymous autistic and her remarkable triumph in an age when many with her condition were often institutionalized never to step out of those bleak walls again.
As this movie shows us, institutionalization was the advice Temple Grandin’s mother received from her doctor when she takes her daughter to see him because her four-year-old daughter is still not talking and exhibiting unusual behavior.
But it to the credit of the mother that she did not heed such ill-considered advise and instead focused on raising Temple in as normal a manner as possible.
As the mother tells the science teacher, Temple is different, but not less.
The story of Temple Grandin is the story of Temple’s triumph over her condition.
We see very little of Temple’s younger days. The movie focuses on Temple’s high-school days and beyond.
Well made, well acted and well written, Temple Grandin eschews the melodramatic for the sober and restraint over the garish display of tantrums.
Living a life when you are autistic is not easy, particularly when your mind tends to think more visually, and the movie makes no bones about it.
When Temple designs a ‘squeeze machine’ to calm her down in moments of severe stress, her near universe is extremely unreceptive of the contraption seeing it as a sexual perversion.
One of the weaknesses of the movie is to only lightly touch upon the mother’s turmoil and the toll Temple’s autism takes on her, Temple’s sibling or the father. There’s nothing about Temple’s father except an offhand remark the mother makes to the doctor that he’s a busy man.
The exclusive focus on Temple makes it a little weird for what’s the individual, even if she be autistic, without the ambiance
Claire Danes, a 22-year-old non-autistic actress plays Temple Grandin with remarkable skill through all the rough patches in high school, college and on the animal feedlot.
The real life Temple Grandin, as the movie tells us in the end did well in life, earned a doctorate in animal science and over half the cattle are handled in a humane manner thanks to a novel system she designed for slaughter houses and feedlots. Temple is now a professor at the Colorado State University.
One of our favorite lines from the movie:
Nature is cruel. But we don’t have to be.
SearchIndia.com strongly recommends Temple Grandin. Netflix has the DVD.