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|[The Optimists] The Grannies living as||
HIT : 1659
date : 2017-11-02
The Grannies living as "The Optimists"
Kim Young Ok (Researcher and activist of Chang’ Human Right Institute)
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Scene from The Optimists, screened at the 8th Film Festival for Womens Rights
1. The Grannies’ enjoy playing volleyball
"The Optimists" is about a volleyball team composed of fifteen old women aged 66 to 98. Founded in 1973, the team has continued to spike until now. In the film, Lillemor shows the photo of the team members commemorating their first 10 years with a smile including the former members who have died from cancer or Alzheimer. Replacing their empty places with the new members, the team does not stop playing. "She died from cancer, and she died from Alzheimer…." says Lillemor, who has been on the team since the foundation, pointing to the former members in the photo. Lillemor, who was in her 50s when the team was founded, is now 88 years old, which means that she has been aging with the team.
She does not express remorse or sadness as she looks at the photo of the people who don’t exist anymore. You can see from her eyes and tone that she admits the change by saying, "People die, and some day I will too" recalling her memories with them. In the photo, a woman in the first row on the left is smiling confidently. She is Goro aged 98, who enjoys honor of being the oldest in the team.
"The Optimists" has been introduced to the press several times for the last 40 years. One of the articles Lillemor has collected is titled as the Going back to their youth.’ Going back to their youth, the old women have been together for about last 40 years with different age spectrum beyond their age difference of 30 years maximum.
In the elderly community, the age difference of 30 years is no more an obstacle for them to be friends as all of them are in their silver ages. They rather enjoy taking their roles and responsibility based on their characters to make a colorful picture as a team. For example, Irma likes taking charge of multiple roles and Goro is proud of herself being the oldest in the team. Goro feels happy just playing with the members in the same team sincerely. Full of curiosity and expectation, her eyes look beautiful and lovely, shining like a lake and her wrinkled skin jiggles like a wave.
The young woman director focuses on these old women with affection in the gym, at their homes and at the health care center. You can see they are aged enough just by looking at their backs of their hands and their face everytime they jump to catch the ball and from Goros bare legs and backs of her feet waiting for the treatment. You can also see them bent with potbelly. With all of these traces of aging, they keep jumping, yelling and laughing at the court as if to say it is their most natural state. "Its so much fun!" Lillemors words represents all others feelings as well. Though some dont laugh, you can read their face expression saying its fine. After watching these happy old women who have been aging with no regret, I could feel myself healed in a healing camp of which the motto is anti-anti-aging.
The Optimists, screened at the 8th Film Festival for Womens Rights
2. Jealousy of their Nordic life
Theres one thing "The Optimists" reminds me of. They are norwegian old women not the ones from other countries. It means that it will be a little hard to understand the optimists who enjoys aging in other countries other than Norway, one of the welfare states. A volleyball game of Norwegian old women team versus Swedish old men team is literally Nordic. You can also find other Nordic things in the film if you watch every scene in detail.
The volleyball team composed of old women aged 66 to 98. It could be prejudging to guess, but I think the reason why the youngest in the team is 66 is because she have started her new life after the retirement. Besides, Norway is mentioned first as a country with good welfare system considering womens rights to work balancing work and family. Though the film doesnt explain their private life, you can see their living conditions through their homes, offices, health care center, village, roads, public offices, cafes and etc. Lets see the inside of the homes of Goro, Lillemor and Eldbjørg. Most of the places display typical lives of middle class citizens in the Northern European country. A bed, side tables beside a bed, bad sheets, curtains, tables in the living room, couches and chairs, dining tables with its tablecloth, flower arrangements and candlesticks, pictures and photos on the wall. Every belongings and objects make a stable harmony in its own shape and color, respecting their each history of living together for a long time. Each one has its dignity and quality at a certain level, which not only indicate its market value. They have aged together at their places at home, with their owners who have used and cleaned them. With them, the old womens home is becoming a kind of museum accumulated with their lives histories. When moving the house, it is not about physical difficulty that you feel so hard and unwilling but it is about psychological uneasiness and also about history. For Lillemor, separating from the oven that she used for almost 40 years is very important. Goro still bakes some cookies for her old friends in the old oven in the old way. Their lifestyles soothe me, thanks to their attitudes of conserving the old things and keeping the fragrance and breath of the time with them.
In the Korean society, the elderly are more and more getting considered as invisible and weak. This is because of a way of thinking that being worn out should be devaluated and despised and being old is about being worn out. People say that the technology develops so fast that it makes old peoples knowledge and wisdom of life based on their lifelong experiences useless. They also say that the men with wire telephones have no advice to give to the people with smartphones today. But I think this attitude of understanding the old peoples wisdom of life means that they are narrow-minded and frivolous. Time doesnt pass only forward irreversibly. Time sometimes stops, stagnates and passes back and forth, painting the experiences with stories fermenting some values called uniqueness. While photos freeze the time forever, objects used and watched for a long time make the time breathe in different stages. The elderly aging slowly in their home with their old belongings can and should be the example of life even if they don’t have any new knowledge that is good to know. The optimism in the film of "The Optimists" is maybe possible because of the environment where people can show that I have lived like this in their daily lives. It is maybe possible because they live far from big cities where people consume too much, because they have old friends understanding each others old-fashioned lifestyle, because they can stay healthy by riding bicycles on the grass, and by sliding over the snow on a sled, because they can apply for a sponsorship of the game in Sweden, because they have enough patriotism for their countries with pension systems to wear an uniform with national flag proudly, because they are living in the environment where they can say that they are excited to greet new year even when they are 98 years old. Of course we cant say that all of these are possible only because they live in Norway. Still, taking the risk to distort all of the complicated details, statistics, social and cultural contexts, I want to consider Norway or Nordic as Welfare system making diverse lives possible, especially the possibility of living our own slow lifestyles.
The elderly can be a good example of the way of enjoying aging to the people who dont know well about aging yet, people who still have to work hard. For this, we need optimism which is not just a matter of individual’s choice. Optimism comes only when people can trust their government and have patriotism. The Korean government should reflect on itself to make the old women in Korea could also choose to feel optimism.