***WARNING: Spoilers ahead***
I watched ‘The Reader‘ on DVD last night. And it is a beautiful movie.
The movie alternates between the past (1958-1966) and the present (1995) with Mike of the present (Ralph Fiennes) reminisces about his brief summer affair as a teenager (David Kross) with 30-something Hanna (Kate Winslet). Their affair is marked by him reading books on literature to her in addition to their sexual expoits.
Until she leaves without informing him.
Mike has no idea why she has left but gets on with life. He goes on to law school and during one of the seminars which involves sitting through a case in court, he encounters Hanna again. This time on trial in a Nazi war crime.
Mike finds out things about Hanna he could never have imagined. And a realisation: she cannot read or write. He has the power to ‘save’ her from a harsher punishment but stops himself from seeing her. She is too proud to admit that she is illiterate and would rather take responsibility for a crime. She is therefore sentenced to life in prison.
Mike, possibly feeling guilty for not having done anything to stop her from taking the fall, starts to communicate with her — by sending her recordings of books he has made. And then, in prison, Hanna decides to learn to read. It was probably one of the most profound scenes in the movie and made me cry. She picks up the book ‘The Little dog and the lady’ from the prison library and listens to the tape recording and identifies the word ‘the‘ in the title. She then goes on to circle all the other ‘the’s on the page. She manages to teach herself to read and write.
It is a sad movie.
But what hit me the most was how difficult life can be if you are illiterate. And how much we take something like reading and writing for granted. We can all read and write here (hence the blogging!) and we probably learnt to do so as children.
The thought that I would not have been able to read all that I have in these 25 years is something so hard to fathom.
And yet, there’s people out there just like Hanna.
I can see why Kate Winslet won her Oscar for this movie. She has done a tremendous job.
A 5-star movie.
Until next time,