January 12, 2016

Film Review: HEALING
Restoring Hope and A (Young) Man's Spirit

By Guest Reviewer: Brian Mier of Eagle Health Resources, Melbourne, Australia

Healing is a 2014 Australian movie about hope and the healing of the spirit in a most unlikely place. It ranks very high in my list of worthy movies about men – young and old – and men’s work.

The movie is based on a true story about a raptor rescue program at the Won Wron Correctional Centre, a low-security prison farm east of Melbourne. The heart of the film is about bringing together male prisoners, emotionally damaged by their past violent actions, and wounded birds of prey. It’s about how both men and raptors heal and prepare for release.

Viktor Khadem is in prison for the murder of his best friend, and has had no contact with the outside world for 18 years. He’s at Won Wron to get ready for release and re-entry. During a work detail in the bush, prisoners witness an eagle colliding with a barbed wire fence and being injured. This event gives rise to an unlikely partnership between Viktor and the bird which profoundly changes them both.

"Never look too deep into the abyss my friend,
or the abyss will look back into you!"

How is it relevant to Man-Making? In addition to what happens between Viktor and the eagle in the film, we watch two older men, Viktor, the prisoner, and a case worker, each of whom has been damaged by events in their lives, as they help two younger prisoners. One young prisoner is in the pit of isolation with low self-esteem, and at the start is unable to look anyone in the eye with his head constantly bowed. The other is a brash young guy who is too easily influenced by others and is induced to be part of the drug circle at the prison camp. We often see both types of young men in society. Through mentoring and support, the young men work through issues such as anger, low self-esteem, guilt, and social isolation to rehabilitate themselves. In the process, these young men also find healing which takes place in unexpected and many-layered ways.

In this video clip you'll get a sample of the beauty of the location and some of the inter-play between the characters.

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

I liked how the film was different from so many prison dramas in that it doesn’t focus on the ugly and violent side of incarceration. Instead, it powerfully speaks to the need for prisoner rehabilitation and the importance of preparing men for re-entry into everyday life. It directly shows us the need for true healing of an incarcerated man or boy’s spirit prior to release, and the importance of intentionally reconnecting them with a realistic hope for a meaningful life.

In my view, this is a superb and inspiring movie to screen for discussion in any men’s group. I also think men working with younger males in a correctional setting would find it especially valuable.

At this Wikipedia link you can find a brief synopsis of the film, but there’s a lot more available with a quick web search. The DVD is also available on Amazon and through other movie outlets.

Brian Mier is a 70-year-old man who is Eldering with Purpose – offering his services to men, families and communities who are seeking to be the best they can be. He is the father of four adult children, eight grandkids, and loves taking the latter on Adventures with Grandpa to explore the simple beauty of life and relationships. You can contact Brian at info@eaglehealth.net.au

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