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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On Beauty - Part II

Photo courtesy of Cinema Paradiso

Jennifer Thornton DiDonna

My 5 year-old son’s life revolves around Star Wars, Indiana Jones and cheese puffs. At my more generous moments, I’d say that there are aspects of beauty in all three. But I find those moments more and more difficult to come across after watching Harrison Ford’s 70-year old plus Indiana Jones (for the umpteenth time) struggling to say his lines without laughing. My husband and I had once vowed to throw our television out the window when I was pregnant with my son, but obviously to no avail (and it does, I hate to admit it, serve as the ubiquitous, infamous, “I can’t take it anymore!” babysitter). As a once upon a time actress and cinephile, I find great beauty in film and I want to share it with my children. I get butterflies in my stomach when I imagine the day that I can go to the Film Forum on a weekday afternoon with my children to watch Federico Fellini’s La Strada, Toblerone in hand. So after many moons of action-packed cinematic death, destruction and Jedis, I came upon a gorgeous image for an animated movie showing at the International Children’s Film Festival entitled, Azur and Asmar, and I jumped at the opportunity of seeing it, story unknown.

We corralled the brood on a drizzly Sunday afternoon and headed into the city (cheese puffs in hand) for a real movie adventure. The first scene opened slowly and quietly with a beautiful Arab woman singing in Arabic while alternating breast feeding two infant boys, one blond and white and one brown eyed and dark-skinned. I breathed a long, deep sigh of pleasure. For the next two hours, we watched a gloriously beautiful tale of two brothers and their journey towards manhood and equality set against the eye-popping gorgeous land of Northern Africa (all the while wrangling my 9 month old daughter from climbing over the chairs behind me into the laps of others).

This Frenchmen’s morality tale/vision of an exotic land filled with curvaceous Arabic architecture transported us for an afternoon. Its intense colors, far away spices and dishes that seemed to waft off the screen made me fantasize about getting on a plane. And for days after my son has been enacting the dangers the brothers on screen had met with, all with his magic key in hand. But more than that, the beauty lingered, for all of us. The beauty of film, when good, lingers. And tomorrow, I think I’ll make some couscous.

Link to purchase movie on Amazon.com: Azur and Asmar: A Prince’s Quest

Jennifer is a Brooklyn mom and was born and raised in NYC. She studied dance and theater for many years until her childhood obsession with rearranging her room (well, her mom’s whole apartment actually) led her to study interior design. Soon after the birth of her first child, she worked for an environmental pioneer in the Green Design Movement, Kim Nadel of the NICHE Design Group. Inspired and empowered by a newfound awareness of the importance of environmental awareness in ALL aspects of life, she combined her love of design with her love of her newborn and created Hazel Wood Children. At HWC (an online boutique) www.hazelwoodchildren.com she could share these values with other parents and their children through her carefully chosen selection of exquisite environmentally conscious products. Jennifer is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama.