There aren’t many films that interest me these days. Sci-Fi flicks are too crazy for me to follow and blood-guts action films don’t do it for me, either. So, I watch documentaries and the nature channel, mostly. But, since HBO and a few other premium services were, for Thanksgiving, offering a week of free access, I found two films that I thoroughly enjoyed.
“The Giant” (Handia) tells the story of a man born in the 1830s in Basque country who was afflicted with acromegaly, commonly known as gigantism. It’s the story of two brothers. One goes off to war and returns three years later with war wounds, which include a non-functioning right arm and hand. He comes back to find that his brother Joaquin has grown into a man nearly eight feet tall and weighing over four-hundred-and-fifty pounds. He, too, is compromised by physical pain from pressure on his joints and musculature as he continues to grow. Both brothers had planned on working the tiny farm that their aged father still tried to maintain. Since farm work is so intensely physical, they both knew that farming would be impossible for them to do, so Martin, the veteran, convinces his brother to join a circus and becomes his agent. As an attraction, Joaquin is a hit. At first money rolls in but eventually Joaquin’s ability to travel and work diminish. The story continues as disagreement among the brothers increases. Joaquin the giant, finally dies in his late thirties.
The film is in the Basque language with a few scenes in Spanish and one scene is in English. Subtitles are provided but the cut and paste job of editing makes the film hard to follow sometimes. However, the cinematography and musical score are wonderful. Not only do we see glorious scenery of Basque country but also haunting visuals of the anguished Juaquin as he struggles to find himself in his grotesque body.
The other film, “The Coda,” features Patrick Stewart as a renowned English pianist who in his old age finds himself conflicted when he tries to play with passion and expertise. His anxiety nearly consumes him and would have except for a female journalist who brings hope back into his life. The writing is wonderful and the background score features classic piano which plays throughout the life of this good man. It is a love story, a love story about finding love, losing it, and finding it again.. Music helps him cope with loss and makes him understand others. This is a powerful film with a great story, simple and winsome.
Both films are worth seeing more than once. However, now that the free week of premium channels is over, I’ll have to find another way to experience these two remarkable films again.