Category Archives: world cinema

Repulsion : Polanski’s Best In B/W

Moving on, lets talk about a movie which has a schizophrenic woman who irons her clothes with the power chord not plugged-in; who cuts off the telephone wires of the apartment, who cleans the blood spots on the floors while humming a song; who looks into the door’s peep-hole and refuses to open the door out of fear. Much as this sounds like RGV’s Kaun, it was a movie that came 30 years before Kaun. The movie I am talking about is Repulsion which was made in 1965 and was definitely one of the many inspirations for Kaun.

Repulsion came at a time when soft romantic movies ruled the BO and nobody would have thought of such paranoid movie theme of a woman who is a misandrist and at the same time she has fantasies of rape and sexual assault. Catherine Deneuve who played the character of Carol who tries her hardest to refuse a handsome guy for a date so she can join her sister for dinner. Carol lives in an apartment with her sister and boyfriend of her sister. She is repulsed by men and her sister’s boyfriend falls into the same category. Although she fears the company of men, she gets turned on by seeing her sister’s undone bed. Although she abhors the orgasmic noises coming from her sister’s room, she hallucinates sexual assaults.

She works in a parlour and is extremely beautiful and desirable. Men want to date her, but she is always lost in her own world of paranoia. She has weird imaginations about the cracks in the walls widening. And all hell breaks loose when her sister goes off on a trip with her boyfriend and she is left alone in the apartment.

Too many noises in her head and too much fantasy thoughts keep her occupied. So much so that she ends up cutting off her client’s skin along with the nails and gets fired from the job. She returns to her apartment and suddenly the cracks on the wall start seeming huge, hands start creeping out the sidewalls and she gets chased down in her dreams. Carol’s mental disintegration is symbolically shown by the rotting of rabbit meat which lies near the kitchen sink. Her sister was supposed to prepare the meat for a fine dinner, but that never happened. Instead, the meat decays and attracts flies just as Carol sinks into her own mental putrification.

Carol turns totally silent and stops emoting. When the landlord comes home to collect the rent, he is charmed by her beauty and tries to take advantage of her loneliness and vulnerability. She gives him the treatment he deserved and something more, a death certificate. The movie is filled with scenes which seem way ahead of times, a character which may seem tame now [in the light of Hostel, Irreversible etc] but back then in 1965 it must have evoked a lot of shock. The bleakness behind the beauty of Catherine was superbly done. The fear factor and the anxiety of the unknown, the lethal actions of an innocent looking face was incredible.

So, what actually happens of Carol? How does her sister react when she returns home? Does she be greeted home at all? Watch the movie to know it. Although its shot in b&w, blood never ever looked so red! Even with all the technology and special effects, we cannot scare the audience the way this movie does. Reason being that, the movie plays in your mind and not on the screen. It does not merely scare you, but horrifies you.

This movie was the first English movie that Polanski directed. Language was never a barrier to him, his camera did the talking. Be it KITW in Polish or Repulsion in English, his touch is evident in every frame. His attention to detail and the innovative characterisation still remains as a reference for every director. Be it the emotional strain between the 3 people in the boat or a single woman in an apartment, the camera captures it all very well. His direction was top-notch and even his black and white movies have a lot of grey. One of the best directors, ever, Polanski is extraordinary in story telling and distinctive behind the camera. A true master of the art.

This is part of a post that was first published on PFC

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Posted by on June 9, 2010 in movies, world cinema


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Kieslowski’s genius : Tracing back ‘12B’ to ‘Sliding doors’ to ‘Przypadek’

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both.
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Its a grave irony that I want to discuss a movie about chance, but I start with a poem which is about choice. The above poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, is one which all of us face in our everyday life. Choices that are left to us and what considerations we take in making the right decision. The poem is not just about a road, thats just metaphorical for life. At every step we have a difficult decision to make; be it home, be it workplace. And we always leave behind an untreaded path, hoping that someday we would comeby it again. Somehow I believe that even if we get a chance to revisit the path, 99 out of 100 times, we would end up making the same choices that we made the last time around. Because man is a born free but bound everywhere by chains, we are slaves of the situation we are put in.

Kaminey too had this angle where Shahid mutters about how life is made/unmade not by what path we take, but by what we leave behind. That may or may not be true, but that’s how life is; always giving us choices.

But, what happens when life does not give us that choice? What happens when destiny takes its own course? When we are left with ‘no choice’ but to go with whats offered to us. That’s the tricky situation that Witek is stuck in Przypadek[Blind Chance]. When God makes the decision, we only have to bear the brunt of it or fightback the situation which was not of our making to begin with. Witek fights the battle, goes against odds and does what best he can do. Does it all turn out good for him? Does he come out unscathed and bitterless? Thats for you to watch.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

In 2001, Jeeva directed a movie 12B starring Sham and Jyothika. The movie starts with Shakti preparing to attend a job interview. While Shakti is at the bus stop, waiting for the bus number 12B, destiny has other plans for him. He spots a charming girl, forgets all about the interview and starts pursuing her. Its obvious that he misses the bus. Is this going to be a life altering turn? Well, the director takes us through parallel series of events which shows us how Shakti’s life turns out having missed the bus; and having taken the bus and attended the interview.

The guy who attends the interview, gets the job and an affable co-worker who ends up liking him. But Shakti is miffed with life because he could not get close to the girl whom he had spotted in the bus-stop. And the guy who misses the bus arrives late to the interview and finally lands up in a small time job at a garage. But he gets the girl of his dream, she loves him too. Will either of the turn of events change his life? A very interesting premise indeed.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

But it comes undone when we realise that the movie was plagiarized. Just 3 years prior to this movie, came Sliding Doors in 1998. Gwyneth Paltrow’s character Helen is caught in a dichotomy. The movie begins with her being fired from a job. And here’s where the movie separates into two parallel worlds. One in which she misses the train in the tube station on her way home and other in which is makes it to the train.

Both scenarios have different outcomes and with their own set of complications. In the situation where she misses the train, she calls for a cab and while boarding in her purse gets snatched. She gets injured in her struggle to get back the purse and she finally lands in a hospital. This entire string of events gives her boyfriend enough time to fool around with another woman.

Had she not missed the train, she would have reached home in time and would’ve caught her boyfriend with his pants down, literally. This is shown in another sequence of events. And this is how the movie unfolds. Drawing parallels between the two lives separated by chance, where voluntary actions find no meaning as the characters are situation-driven. The bitter/sweet experiences of Helen is shown in both scenarios, the laughter and tears, romance and separation.

The movie was nominated in quite a few awards category, but many were unaware of the fact that the concept of the movie has actually been lifted from a Polish movie. In early 80’s, Kieslowski made a fantastic movie titled Przypadek.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Kieslowski handled a complex socio-political environment under the times of a totalitarian regime. He had the guts and gumption to fight the system and talk about it through his films. And another masterstroke was the fact that this movie had a 3-way sequence unlike Sliding Doors and 12B which handled just two. The very fact that he placed his hero, Witek, right in the center of a melting-pot situation speaks volumes about his conviction.

The movie actually tells the story of a strict communist regime through Witek. By taking Witek, played superbly by Boguslaw Linda, through three different paths, Kieslowski gives out the message that no one could’ve escaped brushing against the system. This political message is handled with subtlety where Witek, a medical student who is supposed to be apolitical, still gets embroiled in the affairs of the state and in different capacities.

Witek is made to face the system, first as a political activist who joins the communist party. This happens when he catches the train and meets an old war-horse of the commies. He sympathises with the ruling party and feels that as a youth its his responsibility to join the party and spread the message of communists. His girlfriend isn’t happy with this, but he has applied already.

In another scenario, Witek bumps into a beer-drinking guy and is unable to catch his train. He gets into a fight with the police and is sentenced to community service. This drives him against the system and now he joins the anti-Communist party. So, now he faces the brunt while fighting against the system.

In the third and final scenario, Witek misses the train and goes back home with his girlfriend. He is happily married, settled and teaching medicine. He is truly unpolitical until a situation comes up in the college where he is forced to take sides. But does he?

The fantastic part of the movie is the climax. The build-up is superb, and in all three scenarios Kieslowski shows the hand of God in the end. Although the three situations were poles apart, the end is however the same. Whether Witek catches/misses the train, destiny follows him nevertheless. His final outcome, irrespective of the situation he is put in, is the same. What is that outcome? What is does destinty hold for Witek? Do watch the movie to know more.

Kieslowski’s genius lies in the fact that he made a movie on the concept of parallel worlds when all of Poland was gripped in the non-republic regime. And his movie speaks of those times, tackling the very issues through a visual medium. His protagonist gets a chance, not a choice though, to revisit the same point from where his life takes a crucial turn; thereby partially fulfilling Robert Frost’s words of taking the untreaded path. While other movies like Run Lola Run, Sliding Doors etc have been made on this concept, they fail to deliver a punch. The movies have either become a rom-com or a thriller or candyfloss, none of the writer/director explored the opporunity to go beyond the obvious. This is where Kieslowski’s efforts are to be appreciated, for having thought of this concept in 1980’s, while the next movie based on this concept came a good decade and a half later, taking wholesome inspiration from Kieslowski.

This post was first published on PFC

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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in movies, world cinema


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Knife In The Water : Polanski’s Best In B/W

I rarely ever hitch-hike, rarely give or take a lift. I always plan my trip/journey and give myself enough buffer time, be it public transport or my own vehicle. The only time I have given a ride was to a hawaldar who wanted to get home after his duty hours. And the only time I have asked for a lift was at the behest of my friend, while in Houston standing outside Randalls with 4 polybags filled with groceries. We actually lived very close to Randalls and always walked home, but on that day my roomie was feeling really lazy and a fellow countryman pitied our state and obliged.

Anyways, this youngman in Knife In The Water, never believed in planning a trip and he never ever saw either a weather report or a compass for directions and ofcourse he never shied from asking for a ride. He came right in front of a speeding car, totally overconfident that he would not be run-over, and he actually got a ride to a destination nowhere. His arrival onto the screen was so abrupt that even Polanski did not find time enough to give him a name. Andrzej, a much older man with all wisdom and a beautiful wife Krystyna, not-so-gladly offered the youngman a ride. The couple were on their way to their boat, to enjoy a relaxed time by the lake. But this young intruder probably spoiled their plans. I use the word probably because Andrzej was not a bit hesitant when he invited the youngman to sail with them. He did not even take consent or discuss this with his wife before asking the youngman to join them and make him a party to their private moments.

Now, what is it with men that they do anything to seek a woman’s attention and/or to display their oneupmanship over the other! Yes, the same old pseudo-machismo came into play where Andrzej showed off his sailing experience and know-how and commanded the youngman to do all kinds of jobs with the sail, mast and tying-untying knots. But the youngman was not a bit embarassed about these trivialities, instead he showed his skills with his small penknife when he ran it between the fingers of his outstretched palms. Yes, that requires some talent and lot of guts too. So, while both men were occupied in their ego clash, Krystyna was busy cavorting in a two piece bikini, preparing soup and sunbathing in the boat. All this right infront of the youngman, without even doubting his nature or intention.

By the time the movie reached the half-way mark, I was still as confused then as I was when the movie began; never really understanding what the movie was about. There had to be a twist to the tale or some unforseen incident which would make the movie a little more interesting. But nothing was happening, the 3 of them had supper and drinks, played a few silly games and then hit the sack after setting an alarm for 5am as Andrzej had a meeting to attend at 9am, the next day.

Krystyna woke up much before the alarm went off, and to her surprise the youngman was already up. They were chatting when Andrzej opened his eyes and found his wife and the youngman to be out of his sight. He pocketed the youngman’s knife and then climbed to the deck. He was quite relieved to find the youngman on top of the mast and his wife sitting by the deck. There was a minor altercation between the two in which, first his knife went down the lake and then he did. But alas! he knew no swimming, or so he had confided earlier. The couple took chances to dive into the lake to find the youngman, but they couldn’t. They got back to the deck. Krystyna accused Andrzej of provoking the youngman and she even belittled his cheap antics which were just meant to scare the guy and boost his own ego. Being unable to take this insult, Andrzej made another attempt in a bid to find the youngman.

Does the youngman drown? If he does, would Andrzej forgive himself? Will Krystyna forgive him for the silly duel and will Andrzej forgive her if he gets to know that she cheated on him. How the movie ends is for you to find out, all I can say is that the couple return much wiser and with better understanding of each oher. While Andrzej is guilt-ridden with the thought of having killed the youngman, Krystyna is guilt-ridden with the thought of having having shared passionate moments with the youngman. How they face each other and handle life from here onwards, is the last and defining moment of the movie.

KITW was the first full length movie of Polanski. Shot in black and white, the movie captures the minute details of sailing and boats very well. Although the setup is a lake, we never really feel the absence of the blue waters mainly because the screenplay is so engaging. The tension between the 3 people on board is pretty palpable, and the ego clash is well handled. The movie was brilliantly shot and the jazz music makes for fantastic background score. This movie, made in 1962, was the first Polish movie to receive Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language movie. A special mention should be made of the performances of the 3 main leads, who showed a lot of restraint.

This is part of a post that was first published on PFC


Posted by on February 24, 2010 in movies, world cinema


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The White Balloon : Abbas Kiarostami Scripts A Children’s Movie

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about

There are very few children’s movie that touch our heart. The last such good movie I had seen was Majid Majidi’s Children Of Heaven, which was made two years after this movie. What a nice, cute gem of a movie this is!

The movie took me back to the time when I was a 10 year old boy and my dad had handed me the grave responsibility of depositing Rs.10,000/- in his bank account. He gave me the accompanying paying-in slip and my face turned as pink as the slip itself. Although the bank was about half a kilometer away from our house, it seemed all so far on that particular day. I trudged along, all fidgety, with my hands inside my pockets clutching the bundle of notes. I was perspiring a bit, and it was not because of the summer heat since this happened in the winter of 1990.

the_white_balloonThe movie begins with Razieh who has been given a 500 tomans currency note on the eve of New Year to purchase a gift for herself, not exceeding 100 tomans. The entire movie revolves around this 500 currency note and her adventures at trying to buy a goldfish. At the face of it, it sounds quite ordinary but the manner in which she struggles from one incident to another is heart-touching.

Her first stop is at the roadside snake charmer and his accomplice, a dervish. They play all kinds of tricks with the currency note, first they take it right out of her small fish-bowl, later they place the note around a slithery snake and ask Razieh to pull it out on her own. Fear, anxiety, curiosity, gloom and finally a smile … all this happens in those five minutes that sees the note exchanging hands and finally making it back to her fish-bowl. The range of expressions that she displays in those 5 minutes is the highpoint of the movie.

I do recall that a few of those expressions were on my face when friends and neighbours waved at me when they walked past on that particular day, and all I could do was to smile back. Obviously I could not have removed my hands from the grasp of the bundle and waved back at them, I could have, but I dared not! I was anxious enough to reach the bank as soon as possible, before I could encounter a few more known faces and give them sheepish grins.

I did reach the bank and was mighty relieved as was Razieh when she reached the gift-shop. But unlike me, she was in for a rude shock. After having bargained with the store-keeper for a plump and chubby goldfish, she was dumbfounded when she found that her fishbowl is empty and that she has managed to lose the money again. I too had a bit of a tormenting time when I saw that there was a long queue for depositing cash and that, I would have to wait for some more time before I could offload myself.

Her chirpiness and innocence won my heart, I would have given her the goldfish as a gift. But alas! the store-keeper has to make a living. Anyhow, Razieh retraces her path and finds the spot where her currency had dropped off. Its a pit covered by grills, infront of a store which is already closed for the vacations. Here begins her next set of struggles of having to retrieve the note from that pit. She is soon joined by her brother and they cannot return home empty handed. Razeih definitely wants her New Year gift and the brother being older feels the need to be by his sister’s side and help her out.

The story is quite simple, nothing showy flashy at all. But the manner in which it unfolds is very appreciable, keeping the sensitivity of children in mind. The screenplay is wonderful and filled with lots of sweet little moments like the conversation with the army man who is on his way to his native place on account of New Year leave, the tailor who argues with a customer about the size of the collar, an elderly lady who offers to help and finally the smallboy who sells balloons for a living. How all these people come together and do their bit in trying to help the sweet little kid is very well done.

When the army man tries talking to Razieh and she does not respond, he asks if she has been instructed not to talk to strangers. That’s such a basic parenting nature, all of us are taught not to do so. This was captured well in the movie, sticking to the minutest of details about children’s mannerism and behaviour pattern.

The baby-girl is really enchanting and her expressions are just fantastic. The director, Jafar Panahi, has extracted a fabulous performance from her. From the first scene that she steps out of the house to the last scene, she is amazing. A lot of credit should go to Abbas Kiarostami who is the screen-writer of the movie. When Razieh finally gets her goldfish, its more of a writer’s victory than the directors. Taking no credit away from Jafar who has brought out the best from Aida Mohammadkhani[Razieh] and all other characters, I think the beautiful and detailed writing from Kiarostami must have helped him a great deal. All in all, a fantastic team effort and a good movie to sit back and watch.

I, of course, did manage to deposit the money with a little help from the clerk sitting across the table. When I got back home with a broad smile, dad let me know that he was following me like a guardian angel, keeping a distance of 20 feet. He believed in the saying that if you want a child to grow-up, hand him some responsibility.

By the way, the last shot of the movie was quite exceptional. All the characters who had appeared earlier, crossed each other’s path in that last snapshot. It probably signified the wheel of life, the criss-crossing of paths could also be a symbol of the close-knit society that exists and how people come forward to help each other.

PS: I shudder to think what we would do with the movie if it were to be remade in bollywood. We would, for sure, have a bunch of jokers, a few so-called-stars making an appearance; then a dream item-number prompted by some movie poster stuck on the billboard, a few silly laughs by a drunk passer-by who attempts to pull the note out of the pit etc. The reason for this afterthought is the fact that I heard ‘Children Of Heaven’ is being remade.

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Posted by on July 1, 2009 in movie review, movies, world cinema


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The Shawshank Redemption : God Sees The Truth But Waits

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
– A line that Andy Dufresne says in the movie

There is never a wrong time to watch the right movie. And I am not just saying this because I saw the movie The Shawshank Redemption a decade and a half after it was made, I am saying it because its a movie that everyone should see. On hindsight, I feel that its a good thing that I saw the movie at a time when I would be able to absorb more of it than I would have been able to, had I seen it when I was 13 yrs old. But at that age, I did read a story by Count Leo Tolstoy, as a part of our ICSE syllabus, called God Sees The Truth But Waits. Although the gist of the story by Tolstoy, Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption story by Stephen King notwithstanding, is the same; but the movie achieves what the story does not. The movie is the ultimate example of hope against reason, happiness against murkiness and victory of the human spirit against all odds.

The movie starts with a double murder and the ensuing court case, but that’s not what the movie is about. That’s just the catalyst which brings Andy Dufresne, the murder accused, and Ellis Boyd Redding, a term serving prisoner who has been in jail for 20 years and still counting. No two people could have been as different as these two were; different race, different socio-economic background, different crimes, different outlook towards life – what a leveller the prison is! Its an unlikely friendship that they have, which starts off as Red being the person who can get things into the prison for his inmates and Andy contacting him because he needs a few articles from the outside world; and this acquaintance takes the shape of friendship as time passes and as they begin sharing their innermost thoughts and confide in each other.

When Andy enters the Shawshank prison, he is your typical blue-collared banker who keeps to himself and is taken to be a snob. But the realization soon dawns upon him that he has to spend two back-to-back life terms amidst these very people. Just as water takes the shape of the container in which its poured, so also Andy learns to adapt. He brings his banking experience to play doling out tax advice to the warden and other keepers of the prison; he starts filing their taxes and advices them on loans and insurance. He wins them over with his smartness, but annoys them once in a while with his obstinacy.

Andy is a very unassuming character; he never chides at anyone, never complains out of frustration, never blames God or destiny for his current status in prison. He takes things as it comes, very calmly. Life moves on, Andy continues impressing the warden with his accountancy skills, running a small scam, making big bucks for the warden. Andy also gets himself involved in trying to get funds from the Govt for the prison library. He manages to get $200 sanctioned after writing to them a-letter-a-week for 6 years on the trot.

In the meantime, an old prisoner, Heywood, who had spent 50 years in jail, gets a parole and release. When an eagle is raised among ostriches, it never learns how to fly. Heywood suffered from the same problem when he was asked to leave the prison, he just wanted to stay-on because he knew no other way of living. He did go out, but it was not very long before which he gave up his life because he could not come to terms with it. I guess he desired for a greater form of liberty, not just from the prison!

Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so we don’t forget…that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone, that there’s, there’s somethin’ inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. It’s yours.

I do believe that books and music are two things which nobody can snatch from us. Even if we are taken captive, the offenders can take our freedom but not the soul, they can brutalise our bodies but not bend the spirit. And thats the code Andy lives by. The immense pleasure he derives out of listening to Mozart on the gramophone, in the face of open rebellion, signifies that. He later pays for it by spending one-week-in-the-hole but he finds that totally worth it. Red, as a narrator, is among the prisoners who enjoyed those few minutes of Italian music, although he understood nothing of it.

I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

Red has two parole-seeking interviews, one when he had completed 20 yrs in prison and the other when he completed 30. And he is disillusioned about ever getting out of the jail. On the other hand, Andy is a man of hope and will power. Hope is like the candle in the wind, it can guide us home if we have it or it can dessert us if we don’t. Hope is what drives the world, what makes us open our eyes each morning in search of better tomorrow. Hope is what pushes an egyptologist in search of Tutankhamen, what forces a scientist to continue his endeavour in string theory and hope is what makes a geologist excavate a 500 yard tunnel in search of a newer world. But hope can be a dangerous thing, as Red warns Andy. Hope can drive a man crazy, looking for neanderthal in the artic. That’s the reason Red does not want hope, he believes hope has no place in Shawshank.

But Andy, with hope in his eyes and will in his heart, continues biding his time. His hopes suddenly gain new hooves when Tommy enters the prison for a two year term. Having got bored of his current responsibilities, Andy finds a new way of killing time. He takes Tommy under his wings and begins teaching him as Tommy wishes to complete his education. But again, Tommy is not merely a timepass, he is a messenger of God. What he reveals to Andy is almost incredible and it gives wings to Andy’s flights of fantasy. Andy begins dreaming of a life outside of prison, sooner or later.

Andy : Tell you where I’d go. Zihuatanejo!
Red : Zihuatanejo?
Andy : Mexico. Little place right on the Pacific. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That’s where I’d like to finish out my life, Red. A warm place with no memory. Open a little hotel right on the beach. Buy some worthless old boat and fix it up like new. Take my guests out charter fishing. You know, a place like that, I’d need a man who can get things.

What transpires next is a mere formality because I always knew it all along. It was just a matter of time, and the time had come. Destiny beckoned Andy and he did not look back, ever again. As Red narrates in his inimitable voice:

Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.

The movie is also about great friendships, as I had mentioned earlier. The bonding and the feeling of camaraderie is for real. While Andy is still in prison, in his astral projection he has already been to the hayfields of Buxton in Maine, and near the oak tree, under a rock, he has placed a little something for Red, if he were ever to get out of prison. Andy gives the best thing that any friend can ever give – that little something is more than hope, its a reason to live. And that’s what great friendship is all about, having and sharing.

Its a new day in Shawshank, and a new officer who comes to interview Red for his parole approval. In a very uncharacteristic manner, Red tries to be as undiplomatic as possible. He has had enough of this farce and in his third appearance at the hearing he no longer cares whether they accept or reject his nomination. He has no faith in God and no hope as well. But God works in strange ways. Sometimes we toil and toil to the best of our abilities but have no outcome; whereas sometimes a little nudge, a small push just moves a mountain; it probably works on law of averages. Anyways, God did not answer Red’s prayers because Red never prayed; but he did listen to  Andy’s hopes and dreams.

Rehabilitated? Well now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means…I know what you think it means. To me, it’s just a made-up word, a politician’s word so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?…There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. And not because I’m in here or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then. A young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him. Tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone. This old man is all that’s left. I gotta live with that. ‘Rehabilitated?’ That’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.

Red, finally, gets the the approval for parole this time; much against his own expectations. He lands up in the same shanty quarter where Heywood had resided for a while. But that was the only coincidence, because fate had different things planned. Red recalls what Andy had once told him about the volcanic glass and the rock under which something awaits him. Yes, Red is now filled with as much anxiety as Archimedes was filled with when he cracked the floatation theory, and wanted to get there in a hurry. He does so, and as promised by Andy, there lies a box filled with hope, fufillment of a promise, a testimony of friendship and the freedom of a seagull.

Redemption, hope, friendship and undying faith in God’s actions, is what differentiates the Leo Tolstoy story from this movie. The movie is an absolute delight as we see Red setting off on a journey to begin life all over again.

I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain… I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.

Morgan Freeman as Red is fabulous. His narration is filled with poignancy, enthusiasm, emotion and chirpiness. And his performance is among the best that I have seen of him; pausing at the right moments, speaking when required, emoting when necessary and breathing life into the role. Tim Robbins, as Andy Dufresne, on the other hand has given a well restrained performance. I had earlier seen him in Mystic River, another grave movie. He excels in the portrayal of the never-say-die spirit. Its all credit to the script which gives him enough scope to bring out the best in him. And finally, Frank Darabont as the director, has done a wonderful job. This actually is the first full length directorial venture of his, but that never shows in the movie. That in itself is the victory of the director. He steered the ship of the movie so well that it earned 7 Oscar nominations, no wins though.

Ending the post on a happier note, I think its one of the best that I have seen. The movie has a lot to offer, it just does not end there. It gives us a thought to take home and churn. Ultimately, there are only two ways to lead life, it just boils down to a simple choice … Get busy living, or get busy dying …


Posted by on June 21, 2009 in hollywood, movie review, movies, world cinema


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