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Beauty of Humankind Dwells in 'The Air Up There'

January 17, 1994|ELIZABETH GLASER | Elizabeth Glaser is the chairperson of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation in Santa Monica. and

I am the wife of Paul Glaser, the director of "The Air Up There." I am also a mother of a child in private school in Santa Monica. Our school had a small fund-raiser recently. We paid $10 a ticket to go see "The Air Up There"--all the money raised went to the school. Based on the review (" 'The Air Up There' Is Pretty Thin," Calendar, Jan. 7), if I hadn't been Paul's wife, I probably would never have paid to go see the film--but it was for our school, so I knew people would come.

After it was over, I watched people leave the theater and I was filled with two strong emotions:

The first was anger because I heard so many parents say, "The reviewer never mentioned that I would love this movie." The second, and more important, was pride.

I was proud because as a trained teacher I knew that with all the silly jokes (that we all laughed at) both parents and kids had the chance to learn about another culture without even realizing it. I was proud because "The Air Up There" is really a joyful film.

So I am writing out of frustration to tell people who are not film critics about this movie. Yes, I am the director's wife--but nearly everyone I listened to leaving the movie house, both kids and adults, felt the same.

It is beautiful. The colors of the Sambrene, the real tribe used in the filming, made me feel alive and invigorated. It is joyful--it made me see the beauty in all of us. It was fun and funny. It was exciting. It made me laugh and it made me cry . . . and every other parent, man or woman, black or white, who wasn't embarrassed to say so, said they had a tear also.

But here's the most important part: I left appreciating the simple beauty of all humankind when we take the time to look. The eyes that sparkle, the smiles that are contagious, the pride that can show through. We all can find these in ourselves and others if we can touch the more simple and loving parts of who we are.


The implication in the word simple is often seen as something bad. I feel in today's world we analyze too much, we dissect too much, we see the dark and the negative, we hide who we really are and what we really feel. I guess it is because we're scared or embarrassed. But, if we could stop protecting ourselves so much, I think we would find that we are all simple in a most human way, and that this is not bad. In fact, I think it is good.

Being simple doesn't mean we're not smart. It doesn't mean that we don't know life is complicated. It doesn't mean that we don't know life in Africa, or America, can often be hard or violent. I know firsthand how tough life can be. But, it can be loving too--if we choose to open a little crack in our armor and let that part in as well, we all benefit.

I love "The Air Up There." I've seen it at least 10 times. I hope you go see the movie as well, not because it's Paul's, but because it shows a part of life that we all often ignore or forget--the beauty, the fun, the foolishness, the love.

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