School can be hell for kids. Even in this day and age, even with so many commodities, attention and specialized teachers, it can be traumatizing. Regular school, with all its benefits, with all its ups and downs, is still a source of stress and uneasiness, and some students deal with it better than others. So imagine this same situation, but in a place where the only adult figures are authoritative, angry and cruel. Not all teachers are this way, but in the eyes of a child things like these can get blown out of proportion really quickly. In a setting that reminds us of wartime education, the reaction of these children, even being improbable, can still shake some feelings in the viewer, reminding them of other anecdotes related to these tragic and violent global events.
Situations of sacrifice and loss are all around the world, closer to us in time and space than we like to think about. Serious matters like death or death by one’s own hand are much more frequent that anyone would like to, and in a place where people are not taken care of, the number rises greatly. Education is not only about books or skills, it’s also about personal growth and social interaction. These things should not be ignored, especially at a very young age. In a very cruel and dumb move, the Headmistress forgets or chooses to forget this very basic thing of education, either because of the needs of the times or a very hostile personality. Her students feel isolated and alienated, and find in each other a comfort the Headmistress kills off like a weed in a beautiful garden. What she forgets is that these relationships are supposed what makes the garden beautiful.
It’s hard to understand what happens in the mind of a child. Some things are clear, some make adults stare cluelessly and label their behaviour as silly, but every action from their part has a purpose. The very adult decision the children in Chains of Freedom make is a consequence of many things, but without going too deep, many of them can be identified and their reflections noticed in real life relationships. Hopefully this will change the way the viewers deal with harsh themes and the way these situations can impact a the life of a child.
While it is a piece mainly acted by children, the value in Chains of Freedom is really found in the plot. That’s why the amateur level of the young actors does not go against the quality of the film, no matter what people say. Innocence can’t be acted if the performer doesn’t have any: this only adds to the feeling of reality shown. No other choice would have been better.
In a short like this, the credibility of the setting is very important. Not only an extra effort is noticeable as to costumes, but also to set dressing. It’s not often that a team Chains of Freedom creates an entire atmosphere with such ease, as palpable as another character. Many will say it’s just clothing, furniture and hair styling, but the care with which these elements were controlled shows great expertise, attention to detail and love for the art. This is a very valuable attitude towards filmmaking, one that viewers should experiment a little more often.