28 Nov The Genius of Marian: A Therapeutic Film Experience
By Kath Fudurich
As much as I was looking forward to seeing documentary The Genius Of Marian, a large part of me was dreading it knowing that I was about to sit in a dark room and watch a
story that was about what I live day to day. When I usually go to the movie theatre, it’s to escape, relax and forget.
Not even five minutes in I felt relieved meeting the film subject, director Banker
White‘s mother, Pam White, who lives with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Full of love for her family, happiness in her home and passion to continue her life as independently as possible she reminded me a lot of my mom, also living with the disease. For me, this made the movie incredibly easy to watch as I felt understood and supported by the family on the screen.
Shockingly I didn’t even cry but found myself smiling at moments others may have found sad or uncomfortable. Though we had never met before I could see that the struggles Pam’s adult children, husband, and friends go through are the exact same as what I face.
This story reconfirmed to me that while we as people are separated by so many things in the world our love forone another, our grief at losing a loved one, and our fight against that loss are very universal. In my opinion, andI may say this just because I’ve been living with it in my family for so long, I think Alzheimer’s is one of the most tortuous ways to end a life. Banker, as the wonderful filmmaker he is, was able to display the ugliness and heartbreak of the illness while capturing the beauty, love, and strength that reveals itself in a person when we realize something we love is going away and we cannot do anything to stop it or slow it.
As I sat in the theatre I was engaged from beginning to end. Though I can’t speak for everyone who has watched the film, I think this movie can help all of us dealing with the disease because it’s so educational and relatable. Like I said before, The Genius of Marian made me feel less alone because this family at moments felt like a reflection of my own. Both in their happy moments and in moments of frustration and anger the story was honest. Banker shared important information through his images, without pushing any stats or numbers on anyone, that demonstrate how damaging Alzheimer’s is. He captured the complexities of early-onset [Alzheimer’s] that involve so much more than just memory loss. The few people I sat with who don’t have a parent with the disease were just as affected watching Pam’s mind deteriorate and personality shift. There are few things that make living with this any easier, but if friend’s and distant family could all see this movie to have a better understanding of what’s happening in my life every day at home, I think that’d be a good place to start.