What is at the heart of love? This deep question floats just below the cute, heart-wrenching movie that is Martian Child.
He lives in a world where people just, “disappear”. That’s why he’s afraid he’ll just float away and wears a weight belt to keep him earthbound. We all want to be well grounded, yet, we are also the Martian child, in the world but not of it, trying to rise above the common, and at the same time wondering why we don’t fit in?
Martian Child is the story of a grieving widower who decides he’s going to open up his heart and home to a very needy boy who claims to be from Mars. The movie does an admirable job of setting up the question of “Is he really from Mars?”, another K-Pax, this time with a child at the root of the question.
Here are a few thoughts raised by the movie:
a) Son: “Is it good to be like everyone else?”
Dad: “That’s a really good question,… that’s usually what adults say when they don’t know the answer.”
b) Publisher (to writer, Dad): “Why can’t you just be what we want you to be?”
c) Writer (Dad): Sometimes we forget that the children have only just arrived on the earth, they are a little bit like aliens, trying to fit in.
d) Little girl in group home: “He’s a weirdo, he doesn’t have any friends.”
No comment needed.
Here’s my favourite line though, deep in its irony. It is uttered by the same little girl as mentioned above, telling the literal physical position of the little Martian. “He’s in the box.” Is he really in the box, or is he way outside the box? Here’s a little one, struggling to understand the world, everyone he knows and has tried to care about has walked out on him. His adoptive dad calls those people, “the stupidest people in the universe.”
That part of the movie is touching enough, that we all struggle in some way to find our place on this planet. That theme though is pretty common, lots of people have told that story. The other, more pressing side of the movie, the part that strikes me closer to home has to do with adoption. Not many people talk about that.
The Martian child utters these simple words to his new dad when the two share a non-verbal few moments, Dad trying to understand son by just being with and like him.
“Most people spend more time thinking about how to raise tomatoes than how to raise their own kids.” No comment.
“I understand not wanting to bring a child into the world, but what’s wrong with loving one that’s already here?” Wow, I’ve heard people say, “Why would you want to bring children into this world?” And sometimes I understand that question. But here, we have presented to us, an even more pressing question, since at its heart what we have here is a challenge not just to parenting and adoption, but selfishness. How can you answer that question without it sounding like an excuse?
Hey, you, “What’s wrong with loving one that’s already here?”
(said looking into mirror)