Posts tagged French

“Of GODS and MEN” and Kazakhstan

Last night my husband and I watched a French movie titled “Of Gods and Men” with English subtitles.  We learned many of the Catholic rituals that were followed by eight monks in the two hours of viewing.  They were living in Algeria back in the mid 1990s. Before what the rest of the world now knows after 9/11 about Muslim extremists and terrorists.  These priests made the tough decision to stay on for the benefit of the villagers who they cared for rather than leave to save their own skins.

Earlier we saw how the Croatians at a work site were slashed in their throats by the extremists.  The warning on was that “Of Gods and Men” was a volatile, extremely violent movie.  I was ready for the end to see all eight monks slashed to death because we knew that they would be martyred for their Christian faith.  Didn’t happen quite the way we thought but I don’t want this to be a spoiler for those who have NOT seen this slow-moving but good movie.  I recommend it highly.

How does it relate to Kazakhstan? I think you have foreign people who have gained the trust of the Kazakhs and Kazakhstanis by learning the language (Kazakh and Russian). They live in Almaty or Astana sacrificing what could be an easier, “better” life in U.K. or the U.S. or other western countries. (Not many I know of are actually living in the countryside beside Peace Corps volunteers) However, people I know are following a higher calling. That is what keeps them living beside those who are struggling to make ends meet, those who are chaffing under tyrannical laws that make no sense whatsoever.

BUT, for all the complaining there might be about the Kazakh haves and the have-nots, the standard of living being so high in the cities while Kazakh people suffer in the rural areas due to high unemployment or alcoholism, they still have their freedom.  As we saw in the movie, women were brutalized for not wearing the full garments covering all of their body. Women were not able to have an education.  They were twisted up in fear about whether their children would survive because the Muslims terrorists who ruled the area wanted them to be afraid, very afraid.  The ongoing battle was against the corrupt, government armed forces against the terrorists.  The armed forces wanted the priests to join sides with them in their brutality against the terrorists.  They would have none of it.  So, the Christians were caught in the middle wanting peace. Turns out that the French people LOVED this movie because they are all about freedom.

That brings me to another movie we watched during the 4th of July weekend.  “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson. What is it about Mel and violence and blood?  I had to cover my eyes more than once because it was so brutal and terribly bloody.  Of course, war is all of that but Gibson took it to the next extreme level with some good principles in place. The French helped the early American settlers to gain their freedom from the British imperialists.  French are all about liberty, as are Americans!

Maybe that is what Kazakhstan needs to sort out. Who will really help them get out from under the former Communist past and to stay ahead or away from the terrorist element that would LOVE to come in to strike fear in the people.  Not to mention the other threat to the east, a very big country that is burgeoning with many young males who are a product of the “One Child” policy.  Kazakhstan is the country to watch to see how they can stay afloat in wanting peace.  That is what the eight priests in “Of Gods and Men” wanted but they were martyred for their faith.  What is Kazakhstan’s faith?  Is it in themselves and their past? Is it really Muslim? Is it materialism and a reaction against communism?  Time will tell…

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Last Comments about “Freedom Within” and “Doll Face”

I’ve surely gotten a lot of mileage from showing just two five minute artful video pieces loaded with emotional impact. (see two prior posts) My listening students are certainly capable of expressing themselves and I’m very proud of them.  I just got a positive response from someone in Texas who plans to come to Almaty to learn Kazakh next fall.  You think that showing the best writing samples from my Kazakh students from our “westernized” university isn’t meant to impress?

 Serikzhan wrote this long piece about both video clips I showed in class last week:

 “Freedom within”

 A young French man is a “prisoner” of a little gloomy room. He has no way out and has to live in that room. One day the situation changes, he has been given a sign with the pointed end with a word “Liberte” written on it, which means “Freedom” from a mailbox slit. Then man is taking the sign in his hands and starts turning it trying to understand how to use it, then the person who gave him the sign slip his hand through the slit and turns it so the sign is pointing towards the floor. He starts ripping the covering of the floor and discovers a little door. Man opens it and the white light coming out from the inside dazzles him and he plunges his hand into the light and his hand gets much prettier than it was. So he starts putting the ripped covering and it changes into the perfect lawn. The French rips the wallpapers from the wall and puts it into the light and puts it back on the wall and it turns into the door. After entering the door, he hears a voice saying “Liberte”. He follows the voice and saw many rooms, exactly the same as the room where he used to live. He understands that he must show the way out for those who are not free as someone else who did it for him. Not because it is obligatory, just because he must continue the chain, only then he will feel freedom.

I had a feeling that I was looking at the mirror of everyday routine. Person lives in a grey world. Everything he does is so boring, but he cannot do anything with that. It is the same in the video, where a guy lives in a grey, gloomy room. This moment is the hardest moment in this video and I liked it very much, it trapped me. But later something changes, it’s better to say that someone changes your life and you feel really excited and happy, what’s more you want to share these feeling with someone else.

“Doll face”

The video is about a mechanical doll and her desire. It has a deep emotional effect and complicated meaning, which really makes it attractive. Although, the doll doesn’t speak, her moves and facial expressions explain everything without any words.

The mechanical doll is eager to look like a human being. She is doing everything to reach the only goal in her life. Every time she sees a new picture of an unknown girl on a television, she wants to be the like her. But every time she changes her appearance the girl on television changes it too and the distance between them gets bigger. Her final goal is something that she cannot reach. She doesn’t care about any problems, she is trying again and again, but abilities of her mechanism are finite and it breaks. She wouldn’t be able to reach her aim at all. No matter how hard she tries.

The story really shocked me. The doll wants to be something more than just a doll, she wants to change herself. Her determination to change drags her forward. I’m a bit different and I don’t think that anything will change me, only if I want to chance myself. People can’t influence me a lot, I don’t imitate anybody, I am what I am and somebody attractive on the television will not make me go and change my appearance so I would look like the person on TV.

Olzhas A. wrote the following about the two short video clips I showed last week.

From the first video clip I understood that you cannot reach everything that you want. There are some things which you could not get even you very want. Each person has his own limits what he can do and what he can not do. In the video clip I saw the robot woman. She manages to look like the picture from the TV, but only in her face. And she will never be the natural woman, because she is robot. Also you should know the limits of your possibilities. The robot could not understand her possibilities and she broke down. It is good example of what can happen if you do not know when you must stop. That is why everything that you want to get is good, but you should remember where the end of your limits.

I think it is ideology of our society. Society makes the something like rules. And everybody wants to keep that rules. If you do not keep it you will be different from others.  For me it can be some events in my life or it may be advice of people whom I respect. Because they know more than me. And I know they want only good things for me.

The second video clip about freedom. I think it was good video because it says what we should do. Sometimes you can be in permanent situation and we do not know what to do. In such moments we have only one small push or advice. The man from the video clip gets the tablet (sign). It was just the tablet, but this tablet helped to him to be free. Also it depends on you. He can put it in the floor and seat, but he didn’t put it down. It shows to us that you should not wait for help from other and help them. Of course they help you, but most part of work you must do yourself and it will be your result.

Final thoughts, I think we are very young country [Kazakhstan] and very influenced by other countries. And our society is changing and people are changing with society. If society changes fast I think it’s bad for us. We are influenced by other countries. And people want to be like people from other countries. It is not so bad, but you should know when to say no to himself.


Aselia’s Comments on “DOLL FACE”

As for me, this video tells about people, who are always trying to be someone else. The robot wanted to become more realistic, more natural – something that she wasn’t indeed. The more she wanted to reach her goal, the more away was it. At the end she fell down, and broke herself. In fact, we are always searching for some unreal character and are even willing to change our nature, our personality. We don’t realize that we are given a gift to be what we are. We have everything, we have a great potential within.


Likewise doll face robot a lot of people are making up their idealistic pictures. This explains that everything is in our mind. All the problems, and their solutions; all the questions and their answers are within.


Finally I’d like to add, that this video really made an impression on me. I believe that there are lots of things to learn and to perceive something from. First we always have to remember, that this world starts from you. Indeed, if there weren’t you, how could you be aware, that this world exists? Nobody can ever become you, nor can you be someone else. We need to hear that voice that is coming from recesses of our heart. Everything is within, in our mind, in our soul, in our heart.

 Aselia’s comments on “FREEDOM WITHIN”

The first thought that I got is that freedom is not somewhere away, but always inside us. It’s something, that PERSONALLY you can let yourself. For example let yourself be happier, or more fulfilled in this life. Nobody and nothing limits you! All those boxes we create ourselves, and we are tacked away in those boxes until we realize that we and only we created them.

All we need is to let ourselves be free from all things that we made up. We have to turn the light within us on. Open ourselves to the world, and open the world to ourselves.

Doll Face & Freedom Within 

Sergei – When I saw these two clips, I was not wonder so to watching it. The story of first clip was about robot-woman. She wants to be beautiful as usual woman, but she had achieved her beauty only with a face part. I understand from this clip, that people must to achieve their personal aims as possible as they can. 

From the second clip I understand that all people must help to each other in hard situations. All our lifes is depend from understanding  each other. I think that in our country is the same life, like in these clips and even like in another countries. Our society wants to be the best, and tries help to each other, because most of our people respect our country and even each other.

Doll Face  by Raushan

She longs for being natural, like a real woman. Every time she strives for perfection. The appearance of the TV face becomes more and more beautiful. Hence, the doll does not want to fall behind. It is what we do every day. Becoming older almost all people change: their appearances and inner life changes because of their family, friends and other people who are around them. I can not help thinking that I am an exception. Yet at the end of every day, month, year I notice many changes in me, of course into good site.

 Freedom within  by Raushan

I do not know exactly where the man’s freedom came from. But I can say surely that it was a chain what we can see at the end of the video. The man’s freedom came from another man who got it from previous, … Giving the sign to someone else is as feeling free, as getting out of the box yourself because you know what that person feels and you also know that he will help to another when he will be free.  

Watching such videos we understand the meaning of life, of our own behavior better. It helps us be more tolerant with our desires and wishes. And when you get any help from another people you want to do the same towards to others.  Kazakhstan is like a baby who just understands what is right and what is wrong. It must look at other older countries and try not to do the same mistakes.

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Many Nations Represented in Kazakhstan

British, German, Aussie friendsYesterday I put up photos of buildings in Almaty, today I will show some countries that are represented in Kazakhstan of the 120 nations known to reside here. Some are European and friends of mine with the oil industry or with banking, other photos are just of the costumes representing Korea or Ukraine. I LOVE the color, mixture and diversity of living in Almaty!!! You just don’t get this kind of texture in northwestern Minnesota, that’s for sure!Indian childrenFrench friendKorean costumesUkrainiansSouth Africa bossAmericans

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Wisdom of Nations – Proverbs (Part IV)

“Some are wise and some are otherwise.” Ben Franklin turned this saying around with “Some men are weather-wise, but most men are other-wise.”

“Swim like a stone (brick).”

“The game is not worth the candle.” French (referring to gambling and the undertaking is not worth the risk or effort.)

“The wind cannot be caught in a net.”

“There is no royal road to learning.” (Euclid said this to King Ptolmey’s request about geometry)

“To be between the beetle and the block.” (Chinese – between you and me)

“To be wise behind the hand.”

“To go for wool and come home shorn.” (Many seek to better themselves and end up losing what they already have.)

“To pick the plums out of the pudding.”

“To plough the sand.” Arabic (insults should be written in sand, compliments should be carved in stone.)

“To stick like a limpet to a rock.”

“To throw a stone in one’s own garden.”

“Tread on a worm and it will turn.” Shakespeare (No matter how lowly a creature is, it will respond to ill treatment OR defenseless creature will attempt to defend itself.)

“True coral needs no painter’s brush.”

“Wear the old coat and buy the new book.” (Austin Phelps an American educator and clergyman – 1820-1890)

“When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war.” (Competition will be particularly fierce when two people of similar caliber encounter one another.)

“When the moon turns green cheese.” Sarcastic to a person who is gullible

“Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” Thomas Gray (1716-1771)

“With time and patience the leaf of the mulberry becomes a silk gown.” Chinese

“You cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs.” Russian equivalent – When the wood is cut, the chips fly. This means in order to achieve something, it is inevitable and necessary that something should be destroyed.

“You must spoil before you spin.” (Making mistakes before becoming proficient)

“Zeal without knowledge is a runaway horse.” (Action without deep thought will fail)

All proverbs from the last four blog entries have been taken from “Dictionary of English Proverbs, Sayings and Idioms in Russian, Kazakh and German” by Sakina Akmetova, published by Mektel in Almaty, Kazakhstan 2009

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