Hector and the Search for Happiness

Produced: United Kingdom, 2014

The film charts the journey of Hector, a slightly depressed, London-based psychiatrist who travels to ‘generic’ China, Tibet, Africa and Los Angeles in order to find out what makes other people happy. Throughout his journey, he jots down his realisations in memorable maxims, such as, ‘Avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness’ and ‘Happiness is being loved for who you are’ that serve as take-away lessons in life for the spectator and are handwritten across the screen. One of the destinations of Hector’s journey is a remote Tibetan monastery, perched on the edge of a steep mountain high up in the Himalayas and reminiscent of the convent in Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947)

Hector meets some inspiring teachers on his world-wide quest for happiness, including a Tibetan monk and a vivacious African woman, but whether these encounters actually invert the hierarchies underpinning the colonial contact and the civilising mission, is questionable. Hector himself is portrayed as childlike.Therefore, his encounter with the infantilised exotic Other is more like a meeting between equals

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