In A Better World
Young Elias must deal with schoolyard bullies while his father is away in Africa helping those dislocated by violence. Christian moves to Denmark after the death of his mother and befriends Elias. Together they start to find ways to deal with the bullying. Meanwhile Elias’ parents struggle with their marriage when his father returns from Africa. While the film concentrates on the effects of trauma in our lives, it also focuses on the universality of cruelty and people’s responses to it. Hatred is not a trait limited by age, geography, or circumstance, and so-called "developed countries" can be just as savage as their supposed developing brethren. How can we build a better world?
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Questions For Discussion
1. The Danish title for this film, Haevnen, means vengeance. Which title do you think captures the essence of this film?
2. Most of the characters in the film either enact or are victims of cruelty. Do you think this reflects reality or is it too cynical a view?
3. Did any character push your buttons? Why?
4. What was Anton trying to do when he went to the garage with his children. Was he successful?
5. What Biblical story or myth does this film bring to mind?
6. Have you ever taken revenge on someone? Have you ever turned the other cheek? Which was harder?
7. Is non-violence a viable response in today's world? Are there times when violence is justified?
8. How does the African subplot influence what we understand is happening in Denmark?
9. One reviewer says "poetry is sometimes the best revenge" referring to the movie's ending. Discuss!
10. The public school's response to bullying seemed inadequate and naive. Is there a better way?
11. Acting out our revenge urge may not yield the satisfaction we desire. Denying its existence is no better. What's to be done?