So last Thursday they screened ‘The Rocket’ at the film festival called Framing Interdisciplinarity. 4 consecutive Thursdays, 4 films, 4 discussions – that’s what they are all about. The Rocket was the third film and also the penultimate one. If you want to read about the other two films they screened, click here or here.
The Rocket is set in Laos, which happens to be the most bombed city in the world. Amit, the organizer said something about the statistics of bombing in Laos – one bomb dropped by the Americans per 8 minutes continuously for 9 years! And there are still live bombs in the city it seems – buried to the ground, sticking out of the soil in forests, etc.
The Rocket is about a child, Ahlo, who is born to his mother along with a twin brother of his who happens to be a stillborn. In their way of life, it seems they kill the babies that are born as twins as they believe that one is blessed while the other is cursed. And since it is impossible to say which is which, they kill both. But since Ahlo’s twin in stillborn, his mother convinces the midwife and her mother-in-law to not kill Ahlo.
The film traces his poverty stricken, mediocre life as he loses his mother (for which he is blamed as the bringer of bad luck) and their family is displaced from their village. He is always portrayed as an astute young boy who is smart enough to find happiness through small things and is able to put two and two together. While they don’t have a home and his family is literally living on the streets, they hear about a rocket competition and that whoever makes the most stunning rocket that can be launched right into the clouds will win a huge cash prize. Ahlo wants to participate but his orthodox grandmother who believes hes cursed and unlucky isn’t in favor of this. And the story then traces Ahlo’s struggle to get things going.
What stood out for me was that the film effectively captures the shift from traditional ways of life to the more modern ones. The film explores the superstitions and the beliefs of the rural population (or perhaps the entire population) of Laos but not in a very serious manner. The film manages to retain a sense of humour throughout and that prevents it from being a major drain.
Does Ahlo win the Rocket competition? Who does he learn making rockets from? To me this movie is at least a one time watch and I am glad I watched it with such intellectual minds because the panel discussion that followed was led by an anthropologist and it was great trying to understand the social structure in Laos and extrapolating it to the film.
Have you seen this movie and if yes, what do you think about it? DO leave your comments below.