Early on Easter morn, just before dawn, as the chorus of birds are beginning, all over the land children rush down to the breakfast table to see how much chocolate they have conned various relatives into buying this year! Later that afternoon, cardboard and foil wrappers litter the living room floor, discarded in favour of the sweet brown delight that lurks within each one of them. Do we blame them? Well no, because we were once like that with chocolate smeared grins of satisfaction and who are we to deny the innocent pleasure in chocolate! Chocolat is such a beautiful film, delightfully acted and directed, beyond that it is also a great film for Lent and Easter, so this year I have been telling the story Bit by bit each week until today, the day of the great unveiling. The chateaux with the dominating Mayor pitted against Vianne and her chocolate! Well it is no contest really, the, cold, heartless, unwelcoming Mayor or the chocolaterie with the hospitality, welcome and love? No contest really, I’ll take the contents of the box. The church and Mayor offer so much on the outside, but underneath the veneer, there is an emptiness, no love or compassion is shown here. No wonder the villagers one by one desert the Mayor in favour of Vianne. She has the contents aplenty and is generous with them, where is Christ to be found? Where there is love of course! The film ends on Easter day with a joyful resurrection as the villagers begin to realise there is a better way and they have been missing out. Forget the box, this Easter I’ll just take the contents please!
There is a lent course called ‘Christ and the Chocolaterie’, having not looked at it I cannot tell if what I thought while watching the film has been said before or not…
But anyway, here goes.
Chocolat – a beautifully acted and scripted romantic film – but also so overtly religious, how could anything useful come of it!
Ignore the Catholic rhetoric, the pompous, yet frightened town Mayor controlling both priest and people and focus rather on the tempestuous chocolaterie opened just in time for lent.
The devil has come to town.
The words almost cry off the screen. Yet, not the devil, but Christ in the strangers guise. It is she who gives and old woman life in her last days. She to whom the landlords wife turns when all is falling around her feet. She who re-ignites passion in a dull marriage. She who invites outsiders when no-one from the village will entertain them. She to whom all turn in their darkest moments and are transformed, (all be it with chocolate!) into lightness and life. What else was the mission of Jesus.