Friday, June 15, 2012

Movies that Tribute Fatherhood

With Fathers' Day this weekend it seemed only appropriate to reflect for the sake of blogging on where the best tributes to fatherhood are in movies. Keep in mind, I'm not pointing out movies for Fathers' Day, but rather looking at the various kinds of dads in films and how they model fatherhood in different ways. Naturally there are tons of movies that could feature such characters, but I have narrowed my list down to specific types of dads.

The Good Father 
To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) - Is there any better father figure in literature or film than Atticus Finch? Debatable. To Kill a Mockingbird is told through the eyes of a child, but none of her father’s sterling integrity is lost in the telling. Atticus may initially come off as a stern office drone of a lawyer, but he shows himself to be brave in ways that demand the deepest respect. He stands on the unpopular side in the name of truth and justice. He loves his children and protects their innocence, but he does not shelter them from the truth. He guards their hearts and minds by educating them about life but works hard to defend them from being embittered by it. In terms of untainted character and dignity, Atticus stands tall as a father and role model.

The Dedicated Father
Finding Nemo, Marlin (Albert Brooks) - Marlin may start out as overprotective and compulsive, but he could never be accused of being uncaring or apathetic. Even as a jumpy worrier, Marlin and his son Nemo share an affectionate relationship even before Nemo’s kidnapping. Marlin proves his love for his son in word and deed, battling overwhelming odds to rescue his son, and learning a lot about himself, and parenthood, along the way. Marlin’s determination and unyielding commitment is the heart of what being a good parent is really about, and never would you expect to learn such a powerful lesson from a fish.

The Kick-Butt Father

Taken, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) — "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”


The Sacrificial Father
Road to Perdition, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) —This choice is controversial and I will admit it. Michael Sullivan is a far cry from a model father, and his career choice reaps horrific consequences for his family. What can a man do when his son realizes his father is a hit man? The tagline of the film reads “The innocence of a son is surpassed only by the father’s will to save it.” The heart of Road to Perdition is how far a man will go to save his son from travelling down the road where one loses one's soul. Preserving his son from this path becomes Michael's most important act as a father.

The Adopted Father 
A Simple Twist of Fate, Michael McCann (Steve Martin) — Here is a movie that tributes the relationship between a man and his adopted daughter. Michael begins as a heartbroken and bitter recluse, but his life changes when the gold that was stolen from him is literally replaced by the little girl (shown beautifully in a scene where he opens the drawer where he used to stash his gold, and finds it stuffed full of crayon drawings). Michael proves through his commitment, creativity, and tenderness, the power of nurture.

The Adventurous Father
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Henry Jones (Sean Connery) —Plenty of movies feature fathers who would do anything to save their sons or daughters, but here is the quintessential son-saving-father movie. And Henry Jones doesn’t have just any old Joe Shmoe for a son; he has Indiana Jones! Henry is not exactly the model father with his archeological obsessions and aloof manner towards his son, but the Last Crusade pays homage to the importance of the father-son relationship, regardless of a complicated past. And really, what kid (not just boys) wouldn’t eat their spinach to have the adventure of finding the Holy Grail with their dad? Henry and Junior don’t exactly have an ideal relationship, but Nazis, Knights Templar, rat armies, and the Holy Grail would tend to be a catalyst for building that relationship.

The Unconventional Father 
Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) —If one could point to a tribute to the unconventional father, Daniel Hillard would have to take the cake. Daniel is so determined not to let divorce get in the way of his relationship with his children that he will do anything, including pose as a Scottish maid, to be with his kids as much as possible. Although Daniel’s unorthodox methods would be questionable in the real world, onscreen you can’t help but want him to succeed so he does not have to settle for just seeing his kids on weekends.

1 comment:

  1. The Kick-Butt Father: Very yes. I had to laugh reading that one. One of my favorite quotes!

    An excellent post! It had been a long while since I had read any of your work and I was not disappointed yet again. Keep it up!