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Kramer versus Kramer

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, etc.
Director: Robert Benton
Rated: PG
Year of Release: 1979
Video Release Date: September 26, 2000

Two divorcés find that the custody battle over their child brings them much pain but eventually leads to healing understanding of themselves and each other.

Exercises:

After you have finished watching the movie, take a couple of deep breaths and let the impressions of the film help you with the following exercises.

Exercise 1. Acceptance

In order to heal and transform we need to first accept ourselves: admit that we are wounded. We need to take powerlessness and reclaim it as surrender. We need to take vulnerability and draw out of it the freedom that comes with self-acceptance. Our strength and hope lies in the acceptance of our limitations. In the acceptance of our limitations we become, ironically, a fuller self.

Write without interrupting your stream of consciousness what you learned from this movie about acceptance and how this relates to you and your own struggle.

Exercise 2. Small Acts of Courage in Spite of Fear

Though fear can paralyze the spirit it also calls us to the access one tiny act of courage to keep hope alive. These acts can start put us back in control of our lives. We need to take fear and move it into courage. Did you see a character in the film take some small acts of courage in spite of fear? Have you done this in the past?

Describe, how you felt when you did this and how it helped you prevailed.

Exercise 3. Determination and Endurance

It is ironically the very process of responding with determination to each element in struggle that nourishes hope. We need to face the exhaustion struggle brings and endure to the end.

We need not to give in to the thing that defeated us. We need to refuse to give up, either on ourselves or on the world around us. Endurance is the light of hope in a continuing darkness that must somehow some way give way to the light of dawn. Endurance makes transformation imperative. Did you see examples in the film, which show that determination and endurance helped certain characters get stronger? Have you experienced this in the past? Describe your experience and how it could apply to your current situation and potential future.

Exercise 4. Transformation

Struggle with loss and disappointment can scar us, but it can vitalize us too. A hole we feel inside us needs to be filled with something better. Out of all this can come new strength, a new sense of self, new compassion, and a new sense of a very purpose of my life. There are some parts to the human character that are honed best, and may be only, under tension. The hard thing to understand is that it is the becoming that counts, not the achievements, not the roles we managed to mantle ourselves in. Struggle can transform us from our small, puny, self-centered selves into people with compassion. It not only can transform us; it can makes us transforming as well. For this to happen we need to learn to listen better. We cannot walk quickly, so we learn to wait. Did you see examples in the film, which show this kind of transformation? Have you experienced this in the past? Take a couple of slow breaths and listen inward. Describe your experience and how it could apply to your current situation and potential future.