From A Bad Yesterday One Can Still Find A Good Tomorrow

In the film Yesterday (2004), one scene that stuck with me is when the teacher friend tells Yesterday that she is brave and Yesterday replies that she is not brave, that this is just the way things are. Another scene that also stuck with me is when Yesterday tells the doctor that it is not a strong body, but a strong mind that still keeps her going.

With all we have read about colonization, political movements, power and the people of the villages or cities having to shape their lives around others’ ideas of how they should be living, I find the contrast of Yesterday’s situation interesting. She is shaping her life around a disease that has enveloped herself and her husband. But similar to most whose lives have been infringed upon by outsiders, Yesterday does not forget who she is as a wife, as a mother, as a key part of what makes her family function, as an individual of her village. For some reason, I begin to think of Tambudzai from Nervous Conditions who decides to take her future into her own hands by selling the maize she has grown. Self-determination and the sense of this is what she has to do to get her education to keep moving forward drives her actions. Similarly, Yesterday carries on day by day because she knows that one cannot stop living life even if something changes it, and she now has to provide for her family. After Yesterday’s husband passes away, her focus is on getting her daughter, Beauty, ready for school and awaiting the day she sees Beauty off to school. So interestingly enough, the theme of education is present here as it was in Nervous Conditions. Instead of fighting for her own education though, Yesterday fights for her daughter’s given that she herself did not receive one.

Additionally, I think these scenes tie into our discussion of Memory of Love and my post about memories, hope, and change, and how the past, present, and future are intertwined, all running along the same line. I think Yesterday separates herself from the characters of Kai and Elias by being someone who does have an immense amount of hope and realizes that what has happened has happened. She obviously cannot forget it because it affects the present and the future, but she carries this hope with her, allowing change to take place, allowing the bright future she sees for her daughter to be the new beginning.


Posted on November 6, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think you make some amazing points about Yesterday (the film and the character) and connections to other works we’ve read this semester. I, too, was struck by the sheer will expressed through the figure of Yesterday in the face of such adversity. To make the abstract concrete, I think especially of the scene where she dismantles her makeshift field hospital and the marvel – verging on disbelief – I felt as a reaction to that quite literal strength. I wonder, however, at how optimistic an imagining the film really is. Certainly, Yesterday as a character is admirable, and the fact that she does self-determine to such a degree is laudable. Yet, her name remains “Yesterday,” and certainly there is a turning toward the past as much as there is toward the future. The present moment is imbued with such intense sadness by virtue of the losses it tallies with each passing day; On this point I recall especially the remembrances by Yesterday of her husband on the bus back from Jo’burg. In this regard, I think your final paragraph is spot on. I would just caution that the only reason that bright future is conceivable is because of the past, and that it could have been brighter were it not for her unhappy circumstance.

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