Posted July 21, 2011 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Features
 
 

Who's Yah Daddy?


This week the highly acclaimed Beginners, inspired by writer/director Mike Milles’s own father is released in UK cinemas.

This week the highly acclaimed Beginners, inspired by writer/director Mike Milles’s own father is released in UK cinemas.

Beginners imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver (Golden Globe Award nominee Ewan McGregor). Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent of Inglorious Bustards) only months after his father Hal Fields (Academy Award nominee Christopher Plummer) has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father, who, following the death of his wife of 45 years, came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life – which included a younger boyfriend, Andy (Goran Visnjic of ER). The upheavals of Hal’s new honesty, by turns funny and moving, brought father and son closer than they’d ever been able to be. Now Oliver endeavours to love Anna with all the bravery, humour, and hope that his father taught him.

To celebrate the complexities of the father and son relationship we have put together a list of the top 10 films which have captured it best.

1. The Godfather

Essentially a father and sons story, The Godfather is almost Shakespearian in its tale of a King and his three vastly different heirs. Central to the story, however, is the relationship between Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) and his youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino). While Sonny and Fredo have followed their father into the ‘family business’, Michael shuns his father’s attentions and ambitions for him, determined to follow his own path. This, of course, makes him far more his father’s son than the others will ever be and Michael’s subsequent descent is both inevitable and tragic.

2. Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith teams up with real life son Jaden in this rags to riches true story about a man named Chris Gardener. Chris is a salesman who is down on his luck and when his wife decides to leave him he hits a new low. Determined to keep custody of his son the pair set out on a journey of heartbreak and struggle with hardship lurking around every corner. Chris has an opportunity to change both his and his son’s life with an internship as a stock broker however in order to reach his goals they must both sacrifice everything but each other. Inspired by his sons courage and strength in the face of adversity and powered on by a fathers unyielding love for his son the pair immerge from a life of homelessness and poverty, together, and basking in happiness.

3. The Champ

A remake of the 1931 film, which won its star Wallace Beery an Oscar The Champ is the story of Billy (Jon Voight) who is on the road with his son fighting low-end boxing matches for drinking money before moving on to the next town for another match. One day his ex-wife Annie (Faye Dunaway) shows up to tell him that she wants custody of their son. She has remarried and has risen to social prominence in her community and wants the same for T.J. Determined to keep his son with him, Billy decides to turn his life around and begins to train properly in order to be a success instead of just a washed-up punching bag.

4. Road to Perdition

Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks), a morally conflicted hit man whose employer, John Rooney (Paul Newman) is a kindly, aging Irish crime boss connected with Al Capone. Curious about his father’s mysterious job, Michael’s son, Michael Jr, stows away in his father’s car one night and witnesses the execution of a man at the hands of his father and John Rooney’s biological son, Connor (Daniel Craig). Although Michael Jr keeps his promise to remain silent about what he’s seen, the paranoid and unstable Connor tries to wipe out Michael and his entire family but only succeeds in killing his wife and youngest son, Peter. Michael wants retribution but Connor is protected by his father and the Chicago mob. It’s the complexities of the father-son relationships that make this film so great. John Rooney thinks of Michael Sullivan as a son and adores him but is disappointed by his own son, Connor, and enraged at the attempt to kill Michael and his family. Ultimately blood is blood John decides to protect his son Connor whatever the cost. Michael has lost one son, he’s trying to protect another and the man that he loved as a father is standing between him and vengeance for the death of his own wife and son.

5. Kramer vs. Kramer

When his wife suddenly leaves, Ted Kramer (played by Dustin Hoffman) and his son Billy learn to live on their own and rely on each other. It’s not easy at first, but they soon come to a mutual understanding and deep love for one another. When his wife suddenly returns and wants sole custody of their son, Ted shows just how far a father’s love is willing to go and how long a man is willing to fight for his family. In a time when women are usually automatically given custody, Ted attempts to defy the odds and win his son back.

6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The third instalment of the epic series introduces Indiana’s (Harrison Ford) father Henry Jones Sr (Sean Connery) to the mix. Jones Sr has sent Indiana his diary which contains information on the whereabouts of none other than the Holy Grail! Meanwhile those dastardly Nazi’s have kidnapped Jones Sr and thus the adventure begins. One of the things that makes this film so great is the banter and tension in the relationship between Indiana and his dad. Jones Sr has always been obsessed with antiquities and wasn’t always as present in Indiana’s life when he was growing up as Indi would have liked him to be. Ironically Indi is equally as fascinated with discovering long lost treasures although there is tension there is also a common passion that creates and interesting albeit comedic relationship.

7. Big Fish

Edward Bloom (Albert Finney/Ewan McGregor) is a great teller of tall tales, much to the frustration of his son, Will (Billy Crudup), who feels he’s never really known who his father is. When Edward discovers he is dying, Will comes to see him with his pregnant wife Joséphine (Marion Cotillard). Edward tells Joséphine the seemingly outrageous story of his life from his deathbed while Will tries desperately to reconcile with his father. With flawless performances from all, Tim Burton’s Big Fish has a big heart and the final scenes, as Will comes to understand and appreciate his father for the first, and last, time are incredibly moving.

8. Finding Nemo

Hey, fish are dads too. After losing his wife and all his unborn kids, save one, over-protective Marlin is relentless in his search for Nemo, his only child. Pixar have a flawless way of portraying the complexities of human emotion through the use of toys, monsters or cute animals, and they don’t disappoint here. Marlin’s single-minded pursuit of Nemo, with no thought of ever quitting or assuming the worst is something that any parent could probably relate to. Just as Nemo’s exasperation with his over-bearing father is something that any child could equally relate to.

9. When Did You Last See Your Father?

An outstanding cast gives emotional richness to the father/son memoir When Did You Last See Your Father? Writer Blake Morrison (Colin Firth), faced with the impending death of his father Arthur (Jim Broadbent), reflects back on how the clash of personalities has led them to near alienation. Blake can’t forgive his father for small embarrassments and large betrayals–but he also can’t let go of the need to understand his father’s combination of broad but generous humour and petty egotism. Everyone else in Arthur’s life seemed to love him; why can’t Blake?

10. Return of the Jedi

And you thought your dad was bad. Poor old Luke Skywalker has the kind of father issues that no amount of therapy will cure. Aside from finding out that his dad is not dead, as he was told, he also has to deal with the fact that the old man is an intergalactic despot, murderer and looks like a badly boiled egg with eyes. You have to wonder if you’ll turn out the same, right? Luckily for this galaxy, Skywalker Jr. has a heart the size of a death star and is able to turn his father back to the light. Not that this brings back the countless hundreds Skywalker Sr. force strangled on a whim.


Marcia Degia - Publisher

 
Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.