"The Sweet Hereafter" (1997) directed by Atom Egoyan, screenplay written by Atom Egoyan, based on the novel written by Russell Banks.
This is a story about the people living in a small town in British Columbia, where everyone is very close to each other. One day has changed their lives forever. The school bus driven by Dolores Driscoll (Gabrielle Rose) got into an accident and drowned in a frozen lake. The tragedy has taken away people's beloved children to the other world - the sweet hereafter. "We're all citizens of a different town now. A place with its own special rules and its own special laws. A town of people living in the sweet hereafter. Where waters gushed and fruit trees grew, and flowers put forth a fairer hue, and everything was strange and new." Only a few people survived from the accident. One of them is Dolores herself. The other one, who also managed to survive, but is now paralysed from the waist down is Nicole Brunell (Sarah Polley). Most of the villagers are grieving over the loss of their children. The question is who is guilty of an accident? The only person who is supposed to know the whole truth about the accident is Nicole, but she cannot remember anything. A lawyer, Michell Stephens (Ian Holm) shows up in town to solve this mystery. "As far as I'm concerned there is no such thing as an accident" - he says and tries to persuade families to sue the bus company. Not everyone trust him though, cause he only wants to earn money on other people's tragedy. He claims he knows the feeling of loosing a child, as his daughter is a drug addict and that is the reason for he wants to help them. "Why am I telling you this, Mr. Ansel? Because we've all lost our children. They're dead to us." - that's what he said to Billy Ansell (Bruce Greenwood) to convince him of his good intention.
"…sometimes we are able to embrace uncertainty and error—and not just in domains where life,
limb, and finance demand it, but in the tussle and clamor of everyday life.”
The only person who is supposed to know the whole truth about the accident is Nicole.There are some parts of the movie, that are beautifully narrated by Nicole. A very important part is "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" theme. We hear Nicole reading it to children, who later die in the accident. The Pied Piper is a the subject of a legend concerning the departure or death of a great number of children from the town of Hamelin. In that story, he leads all the children away, never to return, after their parents refuse to honour their debt to him. The only child left in the now-childless town is a crippled child who was unable to follow the Piper's song and now wishes he could have gone with the other children. Afterwards we can clearly see, that Nicole is the survivor and she identifies with this child. She's left alone now and has to struggle her life, as a disabled person. Although the accident has influenced her in a good way as well. It has completely changed her perception of the world. Before the accident she was being abused by her father. Now, she managed to free herself from it. She decides to lie about the accident and he's the only one to know that, but is unable to do anything about it. The reason she does that is to make him angry, but at the same time she wants to protect the town from having to participate the long and painful trial.
"There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling of merry crowds, jostling at pitching and hustling. Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering, little hands clapping and little tongues chattering and like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering. Out came the children running. All the little boys and girls, with rosy cheeks and flaxen curls, and sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls, tripping and skipping, ran merrily after the wonderful music with shouting and laughter. When, lo, as they reached the mountainside, a wondrous portal opened wide, as if a cavern was suddenly hollowed. And the Piper advanced and the children followed. And when all were in to the very last, the door in the mountainside shut fast. Did I say all? No. One was lame and could not dance the whole of the way. And in after years, if you would blame his sadness, he was used to say, “It’s dull in our town since my playmates left. I can’t forget that I’m bereft of all the pleasant sights they see, which the Piper also promised me. For he led us, he said, to a joyous land joining the town and just to hand where waters gushed and fruit trees grew and flowers put forth a fairer hue and everything was strange and new.”
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
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