How Ai Weiwei uses cinema to document the individual

Fran’s dead. There was nothing, no sign of him in the tiny plane he boarded from Vienna. His life and death began to rub off on his friend, Jonas Poher Rasmussen, as he scrambled to find him in Vienna, her new home and the place where the two had their first kiss. Vienna’s scenery was so beautiful that Fran wanted her husband to take their children there; she wanted to see what great landscapes he’d discovered. But she was also worried about her friend. The turbulence Fran’s husband took Fran on the plane to Vienna was frightening. The side of the plane facing the opposite direction, the smells, the temperature and the noise were completely different. There was something wrong when Fran and Jonas were alone and he held her hand, afraid for her safety but with her affection in his heart too.

It’s very difficult to watch someone die. I don’t know if there is such a thing as soft death. It feels like a pain that can’t be understood.

I just wanted the film to make people think and feel. The best way for me to make people think was for them to feel. I wanted to bring strength to those children.

I saw how many emotions I could get out of the film and I wanted to see if they could all be linked by a common theme. I wanted them to understand what it is like to lose someone who is very dear to you.

My mother was someone who lived life to the fullest. She told her children often that we should love each other every day and that love is even more important when we are suffering.

I could feel the loss in myself when I first saw people interacting with Fran and Jonas in Vienna. I couldn’t get my head around it, how they could function there, how they would be able to interact with strangers. I am sure I’m not the only one who felt this.

The theme of grief is something I dealt with myself when my mother died. As someone who had been very happy in life, how could I be so devastated when I saw the images my mother had left behind? When I was living in California, my mother and I had spent a weekend in Orange County, went to the beach and kissed each other. I had told my father that she was coming to stay with us for a weekend and we spent one last weekend together at my parents’ house in Germany. She died in August, when I was eight years old. There was a lot of air travel and we flew to Montreal, Paris and Brussels and she was with my brother and me for a few weeks. The sadness of watching her go away kept me on my toes until I had to say goodbye.

The film with the theme of grief made me think that love always hurts. You can’t escape the sadness of being without someone. Love can never feel normal.

For me, Love and Life were the same subject and Love was the most emotional one. A lot of us are really confused, out of our heads, crying or without sleep. It is totally understandable. We suffer from depression.

So the movie was really important. It’s important for the people who don’t feel comfortable to watch the film, to understand that death is part of life and that we need to be a bit more prepared for it.

I can still go to a classical music concert or the opera. But I struggle to stay awake because I get such a warm feeling when I hear Mozart. I love Mozart and I know that I will never be as good as him. When I listen to Mozart I think of my life and I think that the next best thing to be able to hear Mozart would be to have Mozart for everyone, every day.

The film is still hard to watch. There were a lot of tears and a lot of happy moments too. There was one moment when the young boy watches in amazement as his new mother cooks homemade pasta and wine, and his eyes get big and he’s so happy and as soon as he kisses her, he takes a swing at his father’s car and runs away.

For me, love was the strongest emotion in the film. Love is always beautiful and it is the purpose of life.

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