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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Man of Steel Week: Fathers

So, season three of this blog starts next week. I’m going to kick things off with a Man of Steel week. I have watched this film three times – that is over £30 damn pounds...gone. But I loved every second of it. After each sitting I felt like I had watched something special – but also the more I watched it, the more emotional I got.

For me, I think the emotional core of Man of Steel rests with the fathers, especially Russell Crowe’s Jor-El. Every time I watched the beginning sequence or when Jor-El’s essence appears in the fortress of solitude, I couldn’t help but think of my own late father and what I would give just to have one last conversation with him.


My dad died of cancer the week I turned 18. I wasn’t particularly close to him – I was in awe of him and scared of him. Also, in truth, at 18 I wasn’t the most mature of people, I wasn’t interested in anything particularly serious such as school, religion, what my future held or my own heritage. The only thing my father and I ever bonded over was Formula 1, films and, to my every-lasting gratitude, Arsenal Football Club.

And then he got a brain tumour. I can safely say that the next 2 years after my mother told me and my sisters the news about our father were the worst of my life. I closed him and my family out so I wouldn’t have to face up to the truth that he was dying. In fact the only meaningful conversation I had with my Pa after he was diagnosed involved me making him promise that he wouldn’t die. There isn’t a single moment in my life I regret more than that one.

So he died. But at his funeral I remember being captivated by these stories of my father’s life that I had never heard before. Amazing stories. I heard about how at an early age he went to do manual work in Mozambique to help his family out. I heard about how he was even smarter than I realised at school. My mum told me stories about how they got together, how he reacted when all of us kids were born and how he sacrificed his career as an account to work in the NHS so we could stay in the country.

Of course the next couple of years were difficult for the whole family but every problem I had, I couldn’t help but wanting to speak to my father about it. I wanted to ask him about women mostly and was desperate to know more about Malawi and his childhood. I remember coming out of university and being unemployed for a hell of a long time and thinking what I wouldn’t give to have the advice of my dad. But in reality the reason why it took me so long to accept my dad’s death was guilt – mainly guilt about not knowing him well enough and not asking him all these questions I had in mind when he was alive. I had a lot of growing up to do (I still do) and felt like I had no guide.

So the brooding Clark went through absolutely resonated with me. This is why I ignore the criticism of the film being too dark and miserable because to me it makes absolute sense. Parents are bloody important to understanding a lot about yourself when you’re a human being – they must be vital when you are an alien.


I think Man of Steel is a remarkable film and I am finding it fascinating reading the mixed reviews it is getting. I hope the film makers are just as bold with their vision in the sequel and they don’t compromise.

Anyway, next week we have three great guest posts on the film so make sure you check them all out.