Map of the Human Heart (1992) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Fantastic improbabilities, happenstance and the undying bridge of love are part of this romantic fantasy about an Inuit who crosses years, oceans and the ravages of WWII to find his childhood love, a Metis girl, but finds that their cultures are the most difficult spaces to gap.

  • In 1931, a chartist lands a plane in the Arctic to map unrecorded regions. He takes an Eskimo boy with tuberculosis back to civilisation where he is healed and indoctrinated in a Catholic foster home. The Eskimo meets a "half-breed" girl (father was French, mother was Indian) and they fall in love. They are separated and the Eskimo returns to the Arctic. Years later he encounters the chartist again and sends a message to his love via the chartist. He joins the air force to fight Hitler, and runs into her again, but there are obstacles that threaten his friendships and relationships.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • This 1993 film is a love story about a young eskimo boy, Jason Scott Lee, and a metisse (French for half breed) girl, Anne Parillaud, set in Arctic Canada. The story begins pre WWII with the main characters as children and the beginning of their love, continues through WWII with their love truly and fully blossoming, and ends sometime after the war with the eskimo boy, now an old alcoholic man meeting a young woman. What sets this apart from most love stories is how it ends, rather how it doesn't end. It doesn't end with your typical "and they lived happily ever after" finale. SPOILER ALERT: don't read on if you haven't yet seen it.

    It finishes with love at the final end being unfulfilled, never really resolved. Although I'll have to say that there is a parallel ending - probably insisted upon by the producers - that shows the audience what it would've been liked had everything worked out. That scene notwithstanding, the story unfolds quite innocently, midway becomes joyful as the two young people, the boy and the girl now a young man and young woman in their prime of their life, consumate the relationship that was always meant to be although there is an outside force which threatens and ultimately thwarts their "happy ever after" scenario. Toward the end, the film turns a bit depressing, the story showing us how disappointing things turned out. The young woman, the alcoholic old man meets, is very special in his life (not a love interest) and the timing of his meeting with her makes it all more tragic.

    Although other reviewers thought this film corny I credit it for being closer to life than a lot of other Hollywood big budget movies. Things didn't work out - how many times has that happened in our own personal lives? This of course with the tacked on alternative pseudo ending aside.

    It's a long film but well worth the sit. Don't expect to leave it uplifted but moved. Beautiful cinematography and well paced direction. The scenes of the polar animals and night bombings of Germany are quite compelling. The love scene on the blimp will stay forever in one's mind. Out of 5 stars I'd give it a 4 simply because it did get slow at times and because of the phony happy ending toward the end.

    Cameo appearances from John Cusack and Jeanne Moreau.

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