• Publication date: October 15, 2010

Bee Season Bee Season

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Hollywood veteran Richard Gere stars in Bee Season a story about a young ...

Hollywood veteran Richard Gere stars in Bee Season a story about a young girl who possesses a mystical mastery of words and letters and looks to become a spelling bee champion. Gere plays Saul Naumann, a professor of Jewish mysticism at California’s University of Berkeley. Saul is a somewhat overbearing patriarch who demands control over every household aspect, including cooking, cleaning and driving the children to and fro.He is particularly obsessed with his teenage son, Aaron (Max Minghella) and spends a great deal of time molding him, specifically within the parameters of Jewish mystical teachings. Saul’s preoccupation with professional pursuits and Aaron’s continued intellectual advancement leaves little time for his wife, Miriam or 12-year-old daughter Eliza. While Eliza utilizes solitude to her advantage, relying on her own instincts and understanding to form her character, Miriam is not so fortunate. At a young age she lost her parents in a tragic accident, and continues to relive the trauma years later. Obsessed with the kabalistic idea of repairing the world, piece by piece, Miriam expresses her anguish as a kleptomaniac, believing that each item she steals somehow repairs her broken childhood. The Naumann household is an intellectual and introverted one, where each member lives their own world. While fine for contemplation’s sake, and perhaps academics, it makes for a solemn and divided family. Eliza is particularly affected by abandonment, and wishes her father would shift his primary focus from Aaron to her. Eliza’s hopes start to materialize as she begins winning spelling bees at school. Of specific interest to Saul is Eliza’s method of concentration, which she describes as mental visualizations of words forming accompanied by aural dictation. Drawing from the teaching of Abraham Abulafia, a Jewish scholar who believed deep understanding of language could draw one nearer to God, Saul believes that Eliza receives messages directly from her creator. This nearness to God is an ideal that Saul has been pursuing for a lifetime through his studies of mysticism; he is elated to discover one of his own children possesses this natural gift. Saul begins shifting his focus from Aaron to Eliza, who is now winning bee after bee and preparing to compete in a national competition. In Aaron’s abandonment he begins rebelling against his father, forfeiting Judaism and joining the Hare Krishna movement. Miriam also reaches her limits, as her mother’s mental illness becomes increasing evident to both her family and neighbors. Bee Season is based on the identically titled novel by author Myla Goldberg and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, a scene of sensuality and brief strong language.