Thursday, April 06, 2006
Vivre au Paradis
We watched this in French class the last couple days, and I wish it was currently out on DVD because you should watch it too (as should every member of Congress arguing over immigration policy). Lakhdar, an Algerian living in un bidonville (a shantytown) outside of Paris during the Algerian civil war, finally saves enough money to bring his wife and children to France. What they imagine will be a paradise turns out to be a wretched existence as Lakhdar struggles simply to keep his family alive, eventually losing his soul in a quest for an apartment with indoor plumbing. They attend the October 17th riots in Paris protesting a racist curfew--more than 200 Algerian immigrants are beaten to death by police and tossed in the Seine. Here they learn how their new country views them.
As Lakhdar dreams the European equivalent of paradise--an apartment with a bathroom and lots of possessions--his wife begins assisting the FLN behind his back; her paradise is an ideal and independent Algeria.
That dream is fulfilled, but for the family only in an abstract fashion--after independence, the Algerian refugees in France are not allowed back, and remain in the French underclass interminably, as the recent riots attest.