Caring for Someone We See as a “Hideous Thing”

The film, Caterpillar, is on the one hand a stark “horrors of war” movie. But it is much more.

Imagine the effect on your life of the deposit of what had been your strong vibrant husband before the war on your doorstep by military officers who praise the feats of what is now a person with no arms nor legs. In the immediacy of the shock, the wife runs off in horror at what she calls “that hideous thing.”

What ensues offers every viewer the opportunity to think about the role of physical appearance in defining who we are.

  Caterpillar is as powerful in its own way as Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves has been for so many viewers sharing the protagonists’ embarrassing questions about what constitutes love and our identity.

Another important question raised in the film is the extent to which the tone of our relationships is shaped by power relationships. Probably quite a number of caretakers have to face the temptation to be less than giving to someone who at an earlier time treated them horribly when power relationships were reversed.

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