I Met with an Accident
The award winning documentary from director Trevor F. Ward.
Karma is the idea that you get what you deserve. Benedict deserved everything he got.
Filmed primarily in India, this documentary film tells the story of Benedict Das. He was a member of India’s working-class. He had a respected job at a hotel and aspirations in local Communist party politics.
Against his family and cultural traditions of arranged marriages young Benedict met and fell in love with Celine. Despite his love for her, his need for power and control caused him to mistreat those around him, including physically and verbally abusing Celine and their children. But deep down inside he really just wanted respect.
“I met with an accident,” is how Benedict describes the horrific events of December 1. Late at night, the bus Benedict was traveling on crashed. At the hospital, the injuries were so severe that the doctors insisted on amputating both his legs.
Severely crippled, he is now an out-cast of society. Benedict endures the abandonment of his employers and his political associates. He falls into financial ruin, and even his own brothers desert him in his time of greatest need.
Only Celine’s love and dedication remain. As he struggles to stand on his own again, his relationship with his wife and children is renewed and a new man emerges.
Four years and eighteen surgeries later, Benedict will soon be walking on his own two feet. But the real story isn’t the miracle of his legs; it’s the miracle of his heart. I Met with an Accident is the heart-warming, inspiring story of Benedict Das.
The official DVD contains over 30 minutes of additional footage including deleted scenes, extended interviews and director commentary.
When sold by Amazon.com, this product will be manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.
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The film immerses its viewer in Indian culture without being preachy about its participants' living conditions or the poverty in the background of each shot. The clear focus is on Benedict, and I enjoyed this very much because in the process of learning his story I was naturally drawn to the stark contrasts between his world and my own, making me thankful for the life I was born into and more actively committed to helping those in need. But viewers don't HAVE to feel this way. Benedict is the central character in the story, and while the setting certainly affects the film, it does not dominate its scope.
Even as I write this review, I'm hesitant to analyze Benedict and his family because Ward has done such a fantastic job of making them "real," and therefore responding with any shred of judgment would be as uncomfortable for me as delivering an analysis to Benedict face to face. Ward gives us a detailed look into this man's life that is usually reserved for the deepest of friendships, and therefore it's difficult to remember that I don't personally know the man. Judging Benedict's life would be the equivalent of sitting down a good friend and attempting to psychoanalyze him.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this film so much is that Benedict reminded me of my father. Without going into much detail, it wasn't until my father went through a life-and-death experience that he realized the value of his family and began the long road to becoming a new man. Viewers quickly find that Benedict is sharp tongued and aggressive, and can easily imagine how frightening he would be with the use of his legs. And yet there is a brokenness to the man, a likeability that shines through his flaws and offers glimpses of the redemption that is taking place deep within him. The film offers hope that even the cruelest of men can change and be restored.
Although it's a small portion of the story, the active discussion on karma vs. grace is fascinating to watch. Did Benedict deserve or, further, cause the "accident" that crippled him? Several family members seem to think so. Or, as Benedict believes, did the "accident" serve a divine purpose? The film only presents questions, allowing its viewers to objectively judge the circumstances of Benedict's life and wrestle with the difficult cause and effect relationships that dominate all cultures.
Benedict is the breath of life in this story. He is hilarious and in love with the camera as long as it doesn't try to follow him to the bathroom. He is also inconsistent and flawed, and it's often hard to tell if he really believes what he is saying or whether he's merely chewing on thoughts to see how they taste! Benedict is both abusive and loving and boasts to see the two hand in hand. This is an odd but not uncommon viewpoint, and yet another reason this story could be transplanted to anywhere in the world and find similar characters. It speaks to humanity in us all.
I must say a word for Benjamin's wife Celine because she is a remarkable woman. After suffering years of abuse and neglect, she still chose to stay with her husband (despite her family's protests) and patiently takes care of him every day. The film expertly displays her powerful love and unassuming resilience, even as she listens teary-eyed from the kitchen as her dependent husband spews hurtful words. I Met with an Accident, on many levels, is a love story.
The film's pacing is episodic with carefully constructed highs and lows, yet skillfully organized and coherent. It's difficult to keep track of time while watching, but the conclusion is incredible and, as mentioned above, entirely miraculous. Throughout the film director Trevor Ward parallels the telling of Benedict's story with footage of construction workers completing a large building project, stone by stone, near Benedict's house. This beautifully symbolizes Benedict's need for others in his healing process and the painstaking reconstruction taking place in his personal life.
I Met With An Accident is thought-provoking and impactful, and well-worth the viewing. There are so many layers to it, and it speaks to such a basic level of the human condition, that I think it could be discussed and dissected for days, if not longer.
There was a Q&A session with the director at the screening I attended in Orlando that revealed many fascinating details that didn't make the film's final cut. I would love to see those details available online sometime in the future, as well as updates on Benedict and his family!