** SPOILER ALERT **
Recently I have watched the movie Incendiary. It is a movie that has made me think alot … In case you have not seen the film here is the synopsis from IMDB.
Grief, guilt, and betrayal. In North London, a young mother dotes on her four-year-old son and lives in a modest flat with her husband, a cop in the bomb squad. The Arsenal football team is their religion. On May Day, a major terrorist attack brings tragedy while she is in the arms of a rich reporter (Jasper Black) who lives over the road. She wishes she were dead. In grief and guilt, she pursues revenge, faces betrayal, experiences delusions, and may be suicidal. Two men seek her affection: the reporter and a colleague of her husband’s (Terence Butcher) who imagines caravan camping with her on a beach. In London, the city of the Great Fire and of Hitler’s bombardment, is there any way back to life for her?
For me, the film is about a sad mother whose whole world was destroyed when her husband and beloved child are murdered with over 1000 other people in a terrorist attack at a football match. I get that a main part of the story is her infidelity and how that affects her relationship with Jasper. But for me that wasn’t what stuck in my head. It was important to the story line but it wasn’t what made me keep thinking about the film long after the credits rolled. It was her loss and grief. It was the deep well of her sadness but also her ability to carry on. But what really got me thinking was about her relationship with Terrence and how his choices (and those that he worked with and for) affected her family.
I don’t know how I would cope if my husband and the kids went out for a day of adventures and didn’t come back. Just going out to a sporting match … nothing special … just a game with the local team. I don’t really think it matters what code of football it is (soccer, rugby, aft, nrl, american football) or even if it is football or any other sport …just really any big event … Just the kids going out and having some special time with Dadda. Going to a place that should be safe. I don’t know how I would cope. I know that it would just destroy my world. How do you think you would cope?
But really got me thinking was about her relationship with Terence … and I guess the culmination of their relationship. First impressions were that he was a interesting but flawed character. I found his fumbling and uncertain ways rather charming as he tired to comfort and charm her. He sounded really sweet talking about his dreams of the caravan and blocking out the evil of the world at its doors .. his dreams of taking her away from London … away to beautiful places but with the comfortable of their mobile safe place. But behind that affection was a terrible secret. However the knowledge that he knew about the risk of the terrorist attack that day … before it happened .. That as a senior person responsible for anti-terrorism, that he with others made the decision to protect the intelligence and not release it to the public … that a threat assessment was done and it was thought that there would be only 1 suicide bomber and max 50 people killed at a football match somewhere in England … and it was better to let that happen as they didn’t want to make the terrorists aware of their knowledge on their activities because of fears of larger attacks (chemical attack on Whitehall). The decision was made that it was more important to keep their insider ‘in the know’ and get more information than warn the public and close down all football matches …I guess for me this was the big bit that just stuck in my mind … and has made me toss and turn. Can you imagine being in that position? Can you imagine knowing someone that could have made a difference between life and death for someone you loved? Maybe it is because my LittleMan is almost 4 that it really rings home … but can you imagine.
I understand that people who work in the field of counter-terrorism have to often make difficult decisions between two evils. It must be so hard … And I get it from an abstract perspective. I remember talking with people in emergency services about assessing terrorist risk and how it all works. I find that stuff really interesting because I am one of those strange sort of people that enjoys the analytics and the planning. So I understand that they must work for the ‘greater good’. I understand they must work for the betterment of us all and to look at the big picture … but when it comes down to the individual… Can you imagine losing your family and then .. knowing someone … someone whose job it is to protect … Is responsible for decisions that could have made a difference … That could have saved the lives of your children and husband … to save them from suffer the worse possible death … But because of some policy .. some idea of a worse threat … a decision was made that they were expendable … They had to be lost for the ‘greater good’ … collateral damage. I am not sure I could be impartial. I am not sure I could be understanding. I am not sure I would be able to forgive. What do you think? Could you be with someone like that … Even as friends? Could you forgive? Or would you see them as having the blood of your family on their hands? Would you want them to take some responsibility for the loss of life?
I love films that make you stop and think … to look at something from another perspective. Have you seen another film like that lately?