Tuesday, March 31, 2009

World Movie Series - 10 - The Shawshank Redemption

All these days, when I was writing about the world movies I liked, it’s true that they were my favorite movies. But, there is one particular film which I can never forget. The film which made me to realize about serious cinema. The film which pulled me in to the world of good films. The one film which made me to realize that there are such films too, apart from the ordinary action masala stuff which I was watching till that time. Till date, it remains to be my most favorite film. I first saw this movie in 2000, when HBO brought a new wave in to the Indian television. Till that time, Star Movies was reigning as the single English movie channel, but HBO, like a bang, brought in a flurry of good movies that within a short time, it overtook Star Movies. From that day, I have seen this film 12-13 times (the last time I saw it was yesterday night), but it remains to be fresh and new. It’s unique, and it has something in it which has made it special even after 15 years of its release. Till this date, this movie remains to be the number one in IMDB’s movie rankings, and it remains to be at the top spot in the movies rented in video and DVDs in America. A very special film, which portrays the power of hope.

The Shawshank Redemption.

Prison. A unique world with its own citizens. There are all kind of people in it, the good, the bad, the psychotic, the stern, the desolate – and the innocent. Imagine a sudden twist in life, when we are arrested with the charge of killing someone. What will happen if an innocent guy gets arrested for murder? The experience he faces inside the prison forms the story of The Shawshank Redemption.

The period is 1947. The film begins with the shot of Andy Dufresne, a Vice president of a bank, sitting in his car, with a loaded gun. He is drunk, and is waiting for his wife and her lover. He is waiting to murder them both. The scene shifts to the courtroom, where the D.A argues that Andy has murdered them both, and he has to be severely punished. Andy tells that he is innocent, and after waiting for his wife and her lover, he was getting sober, threw his gun on to the river and returned to his home. But the D.A tells that after searching the river for three days, they were not able to find the gun, and the neighbors too have heard him shout at his wife that he will see her in hell. The D.A argues that eight shots were fired in to their bodies, four apiece. This is cold blooded murder, and Andy must be given the highest punishment.

The judge tells that he is afraid even to look at Andy in the face, and he orders Andy to spend two life sentences back to back. Andy is brought to Shawshank, a maximum security prison.

In the prison, we see Red, a local con who can bring anything inside the prison. He has some friends, and while they were talking, the new prisoners are brought in. Each man bets on a prisoner whom they think will be the first person to cry. Red bets on Andy.

We hear Red telling the story all through the film. We see the film on Red’s perspective. Red tells that he lost his bet, and Andy didn’t even make a sound on his first night in the prison. He tells that Andy was different. He walked like he was having a stroll in a park, and was moving like he didn’t have any worries at all. Slowly, Andy becomes a friend to Red. He asks Red to get him a Rock Hammer. Andy is a specialist in rocks, and he wants to carve little pieces of art from the rocks he collects in the prison. Red stresses that using the Rock Hammer, Andy might try to dig a tunnel to escape, and Andy laughs. After looking at the Rock Hammer, Red realizes that it will take 600 years for a man to dig a tunnel using it, as it is very small.

In the prison, Andy encounters ‘the sisters’, a homosexual gang. Andy was able to defend himself some days, and sometimes, he becomes their victim. Two years pass by. One day, Red, Andy and some of their friends gets selected – by Red’s influence - for the tarring of the roof of the license plate factory of Shawshank. It is a task for a month, and for the whole of the month, they get to breathe outside air. While tarring, one day Andy overhears Captain Hadley, the captain of the prison guards that he has inherited wealth from his brother, and he has to pay a lot for the income tax. Since Andy was a banker, he offers help to keep the income with the captain, tax free. The captain tries to throw Andy from the roof top initially, but eventually accepts Andy’s financial advice. As a result, Andy was able to get three beers apiece for all the friends tarring the roof. Slowly, one by one, Andy helps in filing the tax returns for all the prison guards.

Immediately after the incident of Andy offering help to the captain, the leader of ‘the sisters’ gets beaten severely by the captain, and spends the rest of his life ‘in a wheelchair, drinking his food through a straw’ – Red tells us. From that day, Andy becomes free from ‘the sisters’.

The warden of the prison, Mr. Norton too gets the financial advice from Andy. The warden is a highly corrupt fellow, who, with Andy’s help, invests all the black money in separate accounts, created in a bogus name. Andy requests Red one day to smuggle Rita Hayworth, the then superstar, in to the prison for him. Red gets a life size picture of Rita and Andy sticks it inside his cell. Red tells us that Andy did everything to drive out his loneliness.

Since the warden himself is using the services of Andy, Andy is allowed the special privileges of keeping those posters as well as his tiny rock sculptures. Andy is given a special ‘office’ in the prison library. Andy starts writing one letter per week to the state senate, for allocating funds to make the library bigger with many books. He receives $500 two years after he started writing letters, and Andy starts sending two letters a week for more funds. Finally, the government decides to fund the library every year, and as a result, Andy is able to transform the library in to a better one.

Years slowly pass by. A young prisoner, Tommy, comes to the prison in 1965 – 18 years after Andy was sentenced. He casually once tells the story of his previous stints in other prisons, and out of it suddenly comes the news about a man who was the inmate of Tommy, telling that it was him who murdered a banker’s wife and her lover, and the banker got punished instead. Hearing this, Andy runs to the warden and tells him everything. The warden dismisses the story as a joke and places Andy in a solitary imprisonment, fearing that if Andy is released, then all the warden’s corruptions will be leaked. While Andy is in the confinement, the warden makes Captain Hadley to murder Tommy and declares that Tommy tried to escape.

The warden meets Andy in the solitary confinement, and Andy tells he will not help the warden hereafter. The warden gives another month of confinement to Andy and tells that he must be back, else the library will be destroyed and he will no more be protected from the homosexuals. Finally, Andy gives in.

Immediately after Andy is out of the solitary confinement, he talks to Red about a hayfield in Buxton, and that Red must go there, look under a tree, and must take whatever is buried there and keep it with him. He also tells about the name of a city in Mexico where he wants to spend his life. Andy dejectedly tells about there is nothing more like hope. Red fears that Andy might go for a suicide, as Red’s friend tells him Andy borrowed a six foot rope the previous night from him. Andy slowly walks to his chamber, and Red keeps looking at Andy from his cell. Red tells that it was the longest night he ever faced, as he was certain that Andy is gonna do something like a suicide.

The next day, during the regular roll call, all the prisoners come out except Andy. Prison guards shout at Andy to come out, but there is no response. The guards run to Andy’s cabin, as a dejected Red peeps out through the bars. The expression on Red’s face tells us that the inevitable has happened – Andy has committed suicide. The guard opens Andy’s cabin door, and let’s out a shout – ‘Oh my holy god!’.

******* Now, I ask the readers who have not seen the movie to leave this page, as it will break the suspense. The final part of the movie is the most exiting one, and if you want the suspense to be broken, continue reading. Else, leave this page. *******

Inside Andy’s cell, it’s completely empty! Andy has vanished ‘like a fart in thin air’. The warden becomes mad after hearing the shocking news. He comes to the prison, enquires Red, and in a mad flurry, picks up all the stones Andy has kept in his cell and starts throwing it at everyone. He also throws a stone on the giant blowup of Raquel Welch on the wall, and the stone pierces the picture and goes inside. The warden pokes his finger in to the hole and slowly his entire hand vanishes inside. The poster is tore apart, and at the wall, there is a huge tunnel! Andy has escaped through the tunnel!

In the beginning, we hear Red say that it will take 600 years to dig a tunnel using the rock hammer he gave to Andy, but Andy has done it in less than 20 years. On the night Red watched Andy move slowly in to his cell, Andy uses the six foot rope to tie down all the important documents about the deposits of the black money which he thieves from the Warden to his leg, and ‘he crawled through 500 yards of shit smelling pipeline and emerged clean’, as Red says.

Andy goes to Mexico, after withdrawing all the $350,000 which was the Warden’s black money. Red finally gets released from the prison in 1967 after serving 40 years. Red goes to the hayfield in Buxton which Andy referred, and under that particular tree, finds a letter with some money. In the letter, Andy mentions that if Red reads this letter, it means that he has come this far. So, he also can come a little farther to Mexico, where Andy is now living in the town he mentioned earlier. Red realizes that all the while Andy was mentioning about this tree back in the prison, he had the idea of placing the letter here for Red.

Red goes to the town, and he finds Andy in the sea shore, mending a boat. Finally, the two friends are joined together. The movie ends.

Shawshank Redemption is a touching tale about the Andy and Red’s redemption in the prison. The movie tells through Andy that ‘hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies’.

The movie is made with a lot of touching scenes, and the best scene is the one where Andy and Red talk at the end, just before Andy is about to escape. Where Andy tells the dialogue about hope. There is yet another scene when the old Brooks, after getting released, is unable to compete with the fast moving outside world, and hangs himself.

There is a wonderful scene, when Andy locks himself in the warden’s room and plays Mozart’s music in the loudspeaker and the entire prison getting mesmerized about the music. Andy sits casually in the chair hearing the music while the Warden and the captain try to break the door.

Red refers to this incident as ‘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 best left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you; those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.’

The movie is filled with such great dialogues. The movie was released in 1995. It was directed by Frank Darabont who also wrote the screenplay. It was adopted from a short story by Stephen King named ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank redemption’. The movie was nominated for 7 Oscars, but lost all those awards to Forrest Gump, which was also released in the same year. The movie also had a mediocre run at the box office, but later, after gaining critical acclaim, this movie holds the record of the maximum number of rentals for a film through video and DVDs. The film was voted #1 on Empire magazine's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time (2006) and is #1 in IMDB’s list of all time great movies.

See Shawshank redemption and feel the magic!

See the trailer here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

World Movie Series - 9 - Together

Who helps most when it comes to nurturing and developing a child’s talents? It’s the parents. Especially, in some cases, the father. Whenever the child displays the special talent it has, the parents are so happy, and they strive hard to fulfill the child’s dreams. The untold sacrifices they make towards their child’s well being will melt even an iron heart, if told. Just think about your childhood, and the many facetted stories about the parent’s love towards the child will unfold. A child can never forget the sacrifices the parents made.

Together is one such moving story of a father, who wants his son to become a violin maestro.

The film begins in a beautiful village in China, where we see a young boy Liu Xiaochun, aged 13, with a barber. The entire village is built on a river, where houses are erected on long poles. Once the haircut is over, a man tells Liu his father calls him. Liu runs towards his father’s workplace, and all the way, the stunning riverside houses and the river itself, are portrayed splendidly. The father Liu Cheng is a widowed cook. We learn that the boy is a prodigy in violin, and has won many prizes over the years. The father tells his son that he has been selected for a musical competition in Beijing, and they both start for the city.

In the city, while Cheng goes for a leak, a girl asks Xiaochun to fetch her luggage, and she rewards Xiaochun with some money. The competition begins, and while Xiaochun plays on the stage, we see Liu Cheng's love and the pride towards his son when he happily proclaims to the man sitting next to him that it’s his son who’s playing on the stage. The competition ends, and by buying–off the organizers, someone else is declared as the winner, and Xiaochun finishes fifth. The father overhears two people talking about this, and he realizes one of them as Professor Jiang, an obstinate teacher from the music school which organizedthe competition.

Liu Cheng goes to the house of the teacher and he pleads the teacher to take in his child as a pupil. The teacher advises Cheng to go back to the village, as they are innocent and can’t adjust themselves to the cunning world around them. But, subsequently agrees to take Xiaochun. Both the father and son settle in a small house in Beijing. Liu Cheng joins as a cook in a tiny hotel.

Xiaochun happens to meet the girl, who asked him to carry her luggage, near his house, and comes to know that she too lives nearby. She asks Xiaochun to come to her house and play violin, as she has seen him practice. He goes, plays violin and they both develop a friendship. The girl is called Lily, and makes her living from dating rich men.

Once, when Liu Cheng goes to deliver food, he happens to get a sneak peek of a function to felicitate a musical genius, Professor Yu Shifeng, a very popular person. Immediately, Liu Cheng decides to bring his son to him, as, under this professor, his son has a great chance of exhibiting his talent and earn fame. Liu Cheng goes to professor Yu and reveals everything about the boy. We learn that Liu Cheng found the boy in a railway station as a child, with a violin next to him. From then on, he has not married, and has vowed himself to bring up the boy as a talented kid. He tells the professor that it was his duty to raise the kid and to make him a musical genius. The professor is impassive even after hearing the story, and a sad Liu Cheng returns home.

Meanwhile, Lily takes the boy to shopping, and she sees a beautiful dress. But, since she doesn’t have money, she leaves it at the shop. When Xiaochun comes to know about his father deciding to switch his teachers, he becomes angry, as he has developed an affection towards his old teacher. So, he sells his violin and he buys the dress, places it at Lily’s home. Lily mistakenly thinks it as a gift from her date, whom she saw lingering with another woman, and whom she dumped soon after.

Liu Cheng takes Xiaochun to the new professor’s home, asks him to play his violin, and when he opens the case, finds it empty. He becomes angry, and the boy tells that he doesn’t want to play. Back in home, Liu Cheng learns everything and goes to Lily’s house and tells her the entire story. Lily becomes emotional about the boy’s sacrifice and goes to the Professor Yu and begs him to take the student as a pupil. This time, the professor accepts to take Xiaochun.

Another international competition is up in the air, and the professor, dumbfolded by the boy’s talent, decides to send him for the competition. There is yet another girl who’s been trained by the professor for the same event, and since the professor chose Xiaochun, she becomes angry and envies him. She reveals to Xiaochun that the professor has bought back the boy’s violin, and is planning to present it to the boy after he wins the tournament. She also tells him that she has dreams too and that the professor didn’t understand her dreams.

Back at home, Liu Cheng decides to leave Beijing, as he feels that he will be a hindrance to the boy’s career. He tells the professor that he will leave Beijing the night of the competition, and packs his bags. He tells Lily to take care of the boy, and leaves to the railway station.

An emotional Xiaochun, after picking up his old Violin, runs away to the station to meet his father. When the professor comes to pick Xiaochun up for the event, he finds the girl there, waiting ready with her violin. Xiaochun is missing.

At the railway station, the boy starts to play the same music which he practiced for the competition, and the father comes to the boy slowly. They both stand united there, and it becomes obvious that the boy has chosen his father, against the fame. He finally has decided to be together with his loving father.

Together is a nice musical, combined with a moving story. The final scene, when the boy is running in the station, searching his father, has beautifully been edited with the black and white scenes of the father finding the child in the station, and searching the child’s parents in the station. It has many more good scenes, like the one when the boy slowly develops affection towards his old musical teacher, the scene when Lily understands the boy’s affection towards her when she comes to know about the boy selling his violin to buy her a dress and the poor father who wants to help the boy by leaving the town, wanting to raise more money in the village.

Directed by Chen Kaige, this mandarin movie was released in 2002. The movie won many awards in international film festivals, and is a touching tale about a father, sacrificing everything for his child’s dreams. ‘Together’ stands as a tribute and a dedication for all those parents who love their children and have made sacrifices for the well being of their children.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

World Movie Series - 8 - Maria full of Grace

There are hundreds of people who work in a far away country from their motherland. Most of them might have gone there not because of their own wish but because of other commitments like their family, situation etc. Whatever adversity they endure, they will not come back. Instead, they will stay, face the situation and will fight back, as they are the only source of income to their families. Their lives are the most pathetic, enduring all kinds of problems.

Maria full of Grace is one such film which portrays a young girl’s iron will, which makes her to sacrifice her life for her family.

Maria is a 17 year old girl, working in a Rose factory, in Columbia. Her routine work includes cleaning roses, plucking out the thorns and packaging them. There are many girls in the factory, working from morning to night. As the film opens, we see Maria traveling in the bus, along with the other girls, for work. She also has a boyfriend, who doesn’t love her unreservedly, and has a few problems with Maria. Maria thinks that her boyfriend is too playful, without taking any step towards their marriage. She also is pregnant, and talks to him. He asks her to live in his house after their marriage but Maria resists. She tells his house is too small, and they don’t have privacy. Instead, she asks him to come to her house. He fights with Maria and tells he doesn’t love her. Maria too shouts that she doesn’t love him, and leaves.

Back home, we see Maria’s family. Her mom and her sister. Her sister has an illicit baby, and both the mother and sister are dependent entirely on Maria’s salary. Maria doesn’t like her sister pestering for money, and she openly fights with her sister. Her mom shouts at Maria saying Maria has become a rebel, with no love towards her sister.

One day, Maria is too sick to work at the factory. She tells the supervisor she has to go to the bathroom, but the supervisor shouts at her. She pukes on the bunch of roses, and the supervisor asks her to clean everything. He barks that she is lazy at her work, and she has to make up for the unfinished work.

We see Maria announcing to her mom and sister that she has quit the job. They both shout at Maria asking her to apologize to the supervisor and to join back at the work, but Maria refuses and goes away. Earlier, once in a carnival, she meets with a young lad who dances with her. Now, after seeing Maria at the bus stand waiting to go to Bogotá, a nearby city in search of work, he offers her a new job. To serve as a mule. To go to US, deliver something, and to come back. She thinks for a while and accepts the offer. He takes her to the local drug dealer, who questions Maria about her health and fitness and finally accepts to recruit her. Maria sees Lucy, a fellow mule, in the bus and goes to her home. Lucy briefs Maria about the kind of work she has accepted to do, and warns her about the danger in it.

Maria tells her mother that she is visiting a far away city for work and gets ready for the US trip. The drug dealer gives her neatly packed Cocaine in little capsules, and asks her to swallow all the 62 capsules. She has to deliver these capsules in the US and to return back. He gives her $800. Maria swallows all the capsules with great difficulty, and learns that her friend Blanca too, has accepted to be a mule. In the flight, she also sees Lucy, and Blanca tells Maria there is another woman too, in the flight, as a mule. They send many girls, as even if one gets caught, the others can deliver the cocaine. Lucy gives Maria her sister’s address in the US.

In the flight, Maria feels sick. Her body reacts to the cocaine capsules at her stomach, and a few capsules come out in the toilet. Maria cleans them, and swallows them again, as now she is in to the game, and there is no looking back.

At the New York airport, the customs officials spot Maria and they interrogate her. They know that something is fishy about a seventeen year old girl, coming to the US for the first time who tells them that she is giving a surprise visit on her sister. They question her had she swallowed any cocaine capsules to smuggle them in US, and she refuses. They do a medical test and discover Maria is pregnant. So they acquit her.

Maria joins Lucy and Blanca outside the airport. They see the fourth woman being arrested by the police for carrying drugs. They go to a hotel, where they have to deliver the capsules to the local thugs. After a short nap, when Maria wakes up, she witnesses the thugs kill Lucy, and along with Blanca, escapes out from the hotel, taking all the cocaine.

Maria goes to Lucy’s sister. She tells she is a friend of Lucy who is working as a secretary in Columbia. Lucy’s sister believes Maria and offers her shelter. Blanca too joins them. Lucy’s sister takes Maria to a local Don, who can find Maria a job. Maria tells everything to the don, and about Lucy’s death. The don finds out that the local thugs are in search of Maria and Blanca and he advises to return the cocaine to them.

After handing over the cocaine, Maria and Blanca receive the flight tickets back to Columbia. The don by this time, talks to Lucy’s sister and briefs her about Lucy’s death. Lucy’s sister shouts at Maria to get out of her home. Maria hands over a part of her money to the don, to ship Lucy’s body back to Columbia.

The day of their travel arrives, and in the airport, Maria and Blanca stand in the queue for checking in. Blanca moves in and it is Maria‘s turn. She suddenly walks out from the queue, and waves to Blanca. With determined eyes, Maria turns back, starts walking strong-minded, out of the airport. She has decided to stay back in the US, with a grace that will carry her forward in to her new saga, to live for her family. The film slowly fades out.

Maria full of Grace is a thumping film about the hardships faced by such people like Maria, having to do what they dislike, for the sake of their family. It touches the heart, when we see innocent Maria, slowly getting entangled in to the world of drugs, and her strong will, at the end, to stay back at the US, to make a living. It reminds us of the numerous poor women and men, shipped to the gulf and other African countries, to make a living.

This Spanish movie was released in 2004, and is directed by Joshua Marston. Catalina Sandino Moreno brings out a touching piece of acting as Maria. We often see the helpless Maria becoming a victim in the hands of fate, and the helpless, deserted expression at her face. She is like an angel in distress. The movie has many touching scenes, like the one where Maria goes for check up at a New York hospital, where she sees her baby inside the stomach, moving it’s arms and legs. She becomes happy, and listens to the doctor showing her the baby’s eyes and fingers. At the final scene, we see Maria holding the scanned copies of the baby, while entering in to the airport. Suddenly, inside the airport, she decides to come out of this kind of life (drug trafficking), which affects other people, and so, instead of going back to Columbia and to continue shipping drugs, decides to stay back in the US. Her grace emanates from this very decision she makes, and we see a determined Maria walking sternly out of the airport.

It becomes certain to us that Maria will live a sacrificed life henceforth, living for her family and the baby. She will radiate her grace from this time on, and will bring in a new life for the baby.

See the trailer here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

World Movie Series - 7 - The Way Home

Have you ever had the opportunity of getting associated with your grandparents? For those who have, they know the value of the relationship. Especially, grandmothers are the most compassionate. They have limitless love towards their grandchildren and they will never allow the child’s parents to beat or criticize the children. They will always come to the rescue of the child. A child grows hearing the stories recited by its grandma. I’m sure that if this relationship is missed in life, something momentous is lost.

Imagine the olden days when we used to visit our grandparents in their native village during holidays. One of the greenest memories in life. Do you remember how happy the grand ma was, after seeing her grand children? The delicious eatables she cooked, the toys she bought, the stories she recited, the songs she sung. It’s a lovely relationship the grandma shares towards the grandchildren.

‘The Way Home’ is one of such movies, where we will remember our grand ma at the end of the film.

The movie begins when little boy Sang-woo and his mother are traveling in a bus. We see Sang-woo questioning his mother repeatedly about someone. The mother sits still, and Sang-woo loses interest soon, and starts playing with his toy. The bus drops them in a village, and the mother takes him to a very old house. Sang-woo sees broken furniture, ragged and torn shoes, spider webs and insects inside the house. A very old lady is sitting in the middle. It’s Sang-Woo’s grand ma.

Sang-Woo’s mom presents undergarments to the old lady and some more useful things. She apologizes for not visiting her for a long time, as she is a divorcee now, with no job. She says how can she visit her mom, after running with someone from the village? She promises she will visit again after she’s got a job. She gives tinned food and beverages to the old lady, saying that Sang-Woo will eat them. The old lady signs her daughter to stay, but she leaves.

Once his mom is left, Sang-woo is bored to the core. He starts playing his video game and ignores his grand ma. The grand ma cannot talk. She keeps sitting near the little boy. He calls her a ‘retard’. He is totally unhappy about his mom bringing him to this old creepy lady.

Sang-Woo’s game boy runs out of the batteries, and he asks his grand ma the money to buy new batteries. She doesn’t have the money, and Sang-Woo becomes angry, scolds her and hides her shoes. The grand ma rubs her heart in a circular way, and Sang-Woo
Doesn’t understand it. He steals his grand ma’s beautiful hairpin, and tries to exchange it in the village for new batteries, but the new batteries are unavailable. Out of anger, he hides the hairpin too. The grandma searches them, and finally uses an old spoon, as a hairpin.

The grand ma lives by selling the vegetables she cultivates. Since the food given by Sang-Woo’s mom is exhausted, he asks for Kentucky fried chicken, and the grand ma understands that Sang-Woo is asking for a chicken. She walks out to the village in pouring rain, and gets one live chicken. She cooks it and gives to Sang-Woo but he demands them to be fried. He doesn’t like the boiled chicken, and shouts at the old lady, throwing the food away. But he is unable to withstand his hunger in the night, and slowly eats it. The next morning, the grand ma is still in the bed, and Sang-Woo fearfully places his ear on her chest, to check. She catches high fever, as she went out in the rain, and Sang-Woo, for the first time, helps his grand ma with the food and blankets.

Once in a while, the grand ma needs Sang-Woo to help her with the needle and the thread, and Sang-Woo does it angrily. She stitches her shoes and dresses. Sang-Woo’s grand ma takes him with her to the village fair one day, and by selling the vegetables she cultivated, buys him shoes and choco-pie. She gets two choco-pies to him, and he grabs them, sits in the bus. The grand ma stands outside, trying to give him her bag to take to the village, but he refuses. The grand ma doesn’t have money to buy ticket, and so she walks all the way back to the village.

Gradually, compassion grows in Sang-Woo’s heart, and he places a choco-pie in his grand ma’s bag. Sang-Woo ‘s grand ma gives him the game boy one day, but when he checks it later, he finds money inside the package, and this makes him to cry. Sang-Woo learns from a fellow boy that rubbing the heart means asking forgiveness. He realizes that all the while he was angry with his grand ma, she was asking him to forgive her. This makes him to weep. His grand ma hands him a letter that his mom is coming the next day to pick him up.

Sang-Woo tries to teach the grand ma to write ‘I am sick’ and ‘I miss you’, as he wants the granny to post him so that he will know about her condition back in the city. But, the grand ma is unable to write. She sheds tears, and Sang-Woo too cries.

Next day. We see Sang-Woo and his mom in the bus stand along with the grand ma. All set for him to alight the bus. His mom bids farewell to the granny, and Sang-Woo gets in to the bus. Suddenly, he comes out, hands his grand ma many cards, on which he has written ‘I am sick’ and ‘I miss you’ many times. He then runs inside the bus. The grand ma stands outside his window, knocking it touchingly, and the bus starts. Sang-Woo runs to the back of the bus and rubs his heart, asking forgiveness to his grand ma. The bus slowly moves to the end of the road, and the movie ends.

The movie is a good one, and it makes us to hate the little brat Sang-Woo for the things he does for his grand ma. Almost for the entire film, he hates her. I felt this is a little too much, but otherwise, the movie is nicely made. The entire dialogues can be captured in one or two pages.

This film is directed by Lee Jeong-Hyang, and was the second highest grossing film in 2002 in South Korea. Lee Jeong – Hyang says that she took the movie based on the popular saying that nature and old people are same. They both can’t talk and only can express their feelings through other means. The movie is dedicated to all the grandparents around the world.

See the trailer here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

13B, Orhan Pamuk & Gulaal . .

Bangalore! How often I visit this city recently. . Almost once in a month, I roam around the city, with my girlfriend Shree. Every city has its own elegance, which it has imbibed from the various people who have settled down. Bangalore’s specialty is the people themselves. One can see all kind of people, with their own lifestyle at Bangalore. Just take a walk at the commercial street or the Brigade road, and you will see thousands of people buzzing around, purchasing things and munching savories sold at the roadside. Modernization has blended with old tradition making these places special. You will suddenly encounter a very old building among brand new shops and malls. I saw an old house in the commercial street, between two complexes, and the house even had two cement benches on either sides, and there was even a ‘kolam’ at the entrance. It gave me a nice feel, to see such a house in such a place.

This time, we went to 13B on Saturday. It has also been released in Tamil by the name ‘Yaavarum Nalam’. The best part of the film is the camera by P.C. Sriram. Especially, the titles were nice. Most of the film has been captured in a sepia based color tone, and the flashback scenes are filmed in rich color. The movie is a different attempt, and although it had a few clichés, was a good film to see.

Then, after the film, went to Brigade road, to visit Blossoms. This is a famous bookstore, where all sorts of books can be found, with much lesser price. It has books of every subject, neatly arranged. As soon as we entered, I noticed a book. Now, it had been first released in 1998. But, till recently, I didn’t know the author’s worth. Some time ago, I read in ‘Konal pakkangal’ about a Turkish author called ‘Orhan Pamuk’. Charu has written in praise of this author, and I suddenly remembered it when I saw a book by him. ‘My Name is Red’, the book is entitled, and it’s about the happenings of the Ottaman Empire.

I learned a few interesting things about the author in wikipedia. The author Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 2006, and is the professor of comparative literature at the Columbia University. Pamuk is the best selling author of Turkey, and is the first person to receive the prestigious award from Turkey.

I have read a few chapters so far, and from them, I can tell that the narration is quite unique. It’s very different, with characters like a dog, a corpse etc.. narrate the story. In every chapter, a character takes the story forward, narrating the incidents in its point of view. This is like Roshomon, or for Tamil audience, Andha Naal (or) Virumandi. Quite unique. A hint of post-modernism. Also, all along the novel, Pamuk has skillfully presented the traditionalistic views prevalent during the 1500s and the antidotes. Will write a review once I finish the book.

I also bought two other books, each having a connection to my childhood. The first book, is a comic, called ‘Western Circus’ featuring Lucky Luke, the cowboy who can shoot faster than his own shadow. The comic is written by Goscinny (Asterix & Obilix) and is illustrated by Morris. It’s a French comic series, translated in English and is a very funny one, just like Asterix. It‘s all about the cowboy Lucky Luke and his adventures. He is accompanied by his faithful horse Jolly Jumper, a real ‘character’. In my childhood days, the Lucky Luke stories were published in Tamil by the legendary Lion Comics. Even now, they are published once in a while and the first ever story featuring Lucky Luke was this Western Circus, in Tamil.

Lion Comics started a comic exclusively for cartoons and named it as Mini Lion. This was the first story to be published in Mini Lion, and it came in high quality paper, in full color! The period was the late eighties, and I have not seen a Tamil comic in color till that time. I really enjoyed it and treasured it for a long time. So, once I saw the English comic at Blossoms, all these memories bombarded me, and immediately I bought it.

The other book was ‘A brief history of Time’, by Stephen Hawking. I’m sure everyone will know about it. Right from my school days, I was eager to read it, but somehow, didn’t have the opportunity. Once in a while, I’ll spot it in the book stores I visit, but always, some other book will come and stand between me and Hawking. This time, somehow bought it. Although I’m aware about the contents, I want to read how Hawking presents the material, in his own style.

The next day, we went to ‘Gulaal’. It’s been directed by Anurag Kashyap, the new sensational director of India, who’s improvising more and more with a new movie of his. The film is about an innocent (nerdy) student coming to pursue Law in Rajasthan, and how things happening around him suck him in to the whirlwind, and what happens next. A very realistic film, which shows things as they are. It doesn’t have stupid scenes, and is very neatly made. A good film.

Just thought of giving a small break to the world movie series. Hence this post. Who knows...? Might suddenly start writing about them again. Njoy life and take care...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

World Movie Series - 6 - The Motorcycle Diaries

Here is another world class film which I wanted to bring under this series. Although I have written the review in Jan, I didn’t want this movie to be missed out in the World Movie Series. Hence, I have given the entire post here. Plz don’t mind the repetition of the post.

A bike; two absolutely mad friends; a continent to travel. This is ‘Motorcycle diaries’ in a nutshell.

Alberto Granado and his young friend Ernesto Guevara de la Serna decide to make a road trip. Not of a few kilometers but to travel around 10,000 kilometers – an entire continent – South America. Ernesto is a 23 year old medical student and Alberto is a biochemist. They both decide in 1952 January about the trip they were planning for a few years, and to start on a journey which, later is referred to as the starting point in Ernesto’s life transforming him altogether.

In an old 500 cc motorcycle called ‘La Poderosa II (The mighty one) which belongs to Alberto, they both set off for a journey inside South America. They traveled through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and to Miami, before returning to Argentina. Imagine such a journey in 1952 throughout an entire continent – that too, in a motorcycle! It was this journey, which transformed Ernesto from a medical student to one of the greatest revolutionary leaders the world had ever known.

They face several incidents – happy and sad – which leaves a deep impact on Ernesto’s mind. He slowly starts to understand the poverty, oppression, illness and suffering among the people of South America. Where ever they both go, they see poor people being browbeaten by filthy landlords. The poor doesn’t have proper medical aid, and they die whereas the rich landlords exploit these poor people.

All the while, Ernesto keeps writing letters to his mother in Argentina. In those letters, Ernesto gives a vivid account of the miseries of the people he has witnessed. Slowly, these incidents transform his mind, and ultimately at the end of the journey, a new Ernesto is born.

They both visit a leper center in San Pablo in the Amazon forests in Peru. Ernesto becomes touched and moved by the leper patients staying there, in one bank of the river and the doctors staying on the other bank of the river. The patients didn’t even had the minimal needs to be serviced. No cloths, no proper food, medicines and money. One night, Ernesto jumps in the river and swims across to the other bank, where the patients live – traversing a distance of two and a half kilometers.

Ernesto keeps track of all his journeys through a journal. He writes in the journal about the journey as follows.

"This isn't a tale of derring-do, nor is it merely some kind of 'cynical account'; it isn't meant to be, at least. It's a chunk of two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams. In nine months a man can think a lot of thoughts, from the height of philosophical conjecture to the most abject longing for a bowl of soup – in perfect harmony with the state of his stomach. And if, at the same time, he's a bit of an adventurer, he could have experiences which might interest other people and his random account would read something like this diary."

The original book was published only in the year 1993. From then, it has become a hit and has been in the New York Times best seller list a lot of times.

Now, for the people who didn’t guess who was Ernesto (I know 99 % would have guessed by this time), he was none other than ‘Che’ Guevara, the great guerilla warrior, who played a significant role in liberating Cuba. He slowly transforms from a medical student in to a leader who cares for the people throughout the journey.

See Motorcycle diaries, and get a chance to share the love, the fun, the joy, the hunger, the passion, the madness and the glory of two ordinary people, who traversed throughout the continent of South America.

See the trailer here.

World Movie Series - 5 - Battle of Algiers

How will a country attain freedom? Is it by means of violence or by following non violence? There are many battles throughout the world, for freedom, and there are many stories behind the battles. What will happen if an entire country surges along with the quench for freedom? What if an entire community of oppressed people rise and demand freedom? What will be the consequences?

Battle of Algiers is one such epic tale about a country achieving freedom - the birth of a new country Algeria.

The movie begins with the military just having finished torturing a person. They enquire whether the person will now be able to help them, and he reluctantly shakes his head in agreement. We see Colonel Marcel Bigeard, a veteran who has participated in World War II and in many other wars. He hands over a uniform to the person telling that he won’t be identified at the place they are going. The person stands still, and suddenly lets out a huge ‘NOOOO’, tries to run away but they catch him and warn him. He finally agrees, and they leave.

We see the titles, and paramilitary forces rushing in the streets of Algiers, the capital of Algeria. Loads of military forces are summoned in front of a building, and all the people are evacuated and captured. The general summons the traitor, and he walks towards a wall and points it. The Colonel stands in front of the wall, and issues warnings to the people hiding behind it. He addresses a person inside by the name ‘Ali la Pointe’, and commands them to come out and surrender. We see four people hiding in the secret chamber behind the wall. Two men, a women and a boy. The Colonel tells that the entire organization has been destroyed, and Ali la Pointe is the last man standing. He threatens he is going to blow the entire building, if they are not coming out. We see Ali La Pointe’s face in a close up, and the events of the past start flowing in his mind.

The year is 1954. We see Ali la Pointe betting in a street. A woman points him to a policeman, and Ali starts to run. But he is captured, and put in prison. We learn that he is an illiterate, having spent many petty sentences in prison earlier. In the prison, he witnesses a citizen of Algeria being executed in the guillotine. This makes him to hate the French, who rule the country. He decides to join the National Liberation Front (FLN), which fights against the French.

Once he is out of the prison, he is approached by a boy, who hands him a note. Ali asks the boy to read it out, and it says he has to kill a cop, and a woman will hand him a gun at the right time. He starts following the particular cop, and a woman joins him. She hands over the gun to Ali, and when he shoots the cop, there is no bullet. The cop catches Ali and Ali beats him up. They both run and hide in a house, where Ali bursts out on the girl, for cheating him. She calmly takes him to one of the leaders of FLN, El Hadi Jaffer, a fictional character in the film.

Jaffer tells Ali he wanted to make sure Ali is not a French traitor, and hence he arranged the gun without bullets. He tells he is sure about Ali now, and he can involve himself in the FLN henceforth. Ali plays a vital role in FLN and soon becomes one of the top leaders.

The FLN places bombs in public restaurants, clubs and pubs and many French people die. As a result, the French government recruits Colonel Marcel Bigeard. Marcel Bigeard soon gains knowledge about FLN. It is structured in a triangular way that each person in the organization knows only the person who recruited him and the two people he has recruited. In this way, no one knows about the layers above him, and hence the FLN is effectively able to launch attacks.

The Colonel begins to target the lowest layer of the FLN first. The FLN orders the Algerian Arabs for a week long strike, to make the UN realize about the power of the people of Algeria so that the issue will be spoken in the UN, which might result in talks about its independence. Hence, the entire Algeria stops working for the French. The French get irritated and they decide to break the strike. They attack the homes and shops of the people and make them work. During the attacks on people, the Colonel is able to capture many of the lower layer people, and through them, gradually, one by one, the upper layer people are also captured.

The captured people are tortured. The military eventually captures Larbi Ben M’hidi, one of the top leaders of the FLN. A case is filed against M’hidi for involving in terrorist activities. During the trial, a lawyer questions M’hidi why did they plant bombs in public places murdering many innocent people, for which M’hidi replies that the causalities they faced was even more than the causalities they inflicted, and why did the French government dropped bombs from the planes on innocent people? If they have stopped, then the FLN would have also stopped. The next day, the French government announces the ‘suicide’ of Larbi Ben M’hidi inside the prison. They say he hung himself, by tearing his shirt and using it to strangle his neck.

The reporters question the Colonel about how did this happen, as M’hidi’s hands were cuffed and he was tied town inside the prison. The colonel replies that if the French people want to stay in Algeria and if Algeria must be a French colony, those questions must not be raised.

Ultimately, the French are able to kill everyone in the FLN except Ali la Pointe. But, because of the traitor, the military is able to surround the house where Ali is hiding. Just when the military arrives, Ali hides inside the chamber in the wall, which he built earlier.

Ali comes back from his memories in to reality and hears the Colonel’s warning. But Ali bravely decides to stay inside, along with his counterparts. Finally, bombs are planted on the wall, and the building gets destroyed completely.

The military thinks it has smashed the FLN completely. Two years pass by, without any agitation or issue. But, suddenly, there begins a mutiny on the mountains surrounding Algiers, and all the Arab citizens rouse against the French government. A huge protest is underway, and no one is able to deduce how it was organized. The military shoots most people, but they keep on coming like waves in a sea.

After two years of the agitation, finally Algeria becomes a free nation. All the people celebrate the freedom, and Ali’s dream comes true.

Battle of Algiers is a thumping attempt on Algeria’s freedom struggle. The film touchingly shows how Algeria suffered under France and finally how it was granted freedom. All the characters shown in the film are true people who lived and died, except El Hadi Jaffer who recruited Ali, initially. Larbi Ben M’hidi is still considered to be a legend in Algeria, and it is true that he was executed by the French in the prison.

Gillo Pontecarvo is the director of this Italian movie which was released in 1967, and it won many awards. The entire movie is filmed in Black and White and it beautifully represents the feel of a documentary. It is said that the initial versions of the movie carried disclaimers that not even a single reel of the movie was taken from the news archives.

Ennio Morricone again has done an excellent work as the music director. The camera is stunning and the acting is brilliant. The actors were real Arab citizens of Algeria, and not professional actors. This movie was banned in France in the initial years of release. Read more on the Algerian war of Independence at this link.

It is dangerous to oppress people, and when they react, it creates havoc. Battle of Algiers is one such upsurge against colonialism, and the thirst for Independence has made heroes out of the ordinary people, and ultimately resulted in freedom. See the movie, and get to know about the bloodshed.

See the trailer here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

World Movie Series - 4 - Cinema Paradiso

There is a phase in everyone’s life which we can never forget. We sometimes yearn for this phase and hope that we get those years again to relive the happy moments for a second time. Every time we think about those years, it brings a smile on our face, and we become nostalgic. The golden years of our childhood and teenage. These memories never get erased from our mind and they keep on flashing time after time in our mind as and when we reminiscent over the happenings of the past. Just imagine what will happen if those memories are rekindled by an incident which takes us directly to those years.

Cinema Paradiso is one such journey in to the aromatic years of the past, by an individual.

Salvatore Di Vita is a critically acclaimed, successful film director, living in Rome. The movie begins with his mother, living in their hometown, Giancaldo in Sicily, trying to call Salvatore over the phone. She wants to convey him a message, but since Salvatore is not at home, she delivers the message to a lady friend of Salvatore. After talking, her daughter – Salvatore’s younger sister tells her mom that since Salvatore has not been home for the past 30 years, he will not come this time also. The mother looks at her daughter intently, and tells she knows Salvatore better than her daughter and he will surely come this time.

We cut to Salvatore, in Rome, arriving home, late at night. The lady tells Salvatore that his mom called. She tells that her mom wants Salvatore to come to Sicily so that she can be with her son for a while. Salvatore enquires the lady about did his mom call just to tell about this, and the lady replies that his mom also conveyed a message to Salvatore. Alfredo has died, and his funeral will happen the next evening. Hearing this, Salvatore lies down in bed, and as we see a tight close up of his face, begins a journey in to the past, recollecting his old memories.

The period is right away after the World War II. We see a church in Giancaldo, and Salvatore, a very young boy, aged 6, is assisting the father with the day to day activities. Salvatore’s nick name is Toto, and he is an extremely bright kid. His mom is a war widow. Toto dozes up during church activities, as they bore him to the core. The father keeps complaining about Toto and he asks Toto to go home and sleep, as he has an important work to do. Toto knows where the father is going, and pesters him up that he will also come. The father refuses and goes away.

It’s an old movie theatre. The only one present in Giancaldo. Before every movie is screened, the father sees it and raises alarm during the ‘objectionable’ scenes – the kissing scenes- and the operator marks them and chops them off before public screening. Today also, the father sits alone in the theatre, and the movie begins. During the kissing scenes, the father rings his bell, and the operator marks them. We see Toto peeking in from a small vent in the theatre. While Toto secretly watches, the operator catches him up.

We see Alfredo, the operator. A big man with a friendly smile. Alfredo likes Toto but is against Toto’s will to be in the theatre. So he orders Toto to go home. Toto sees all the film rolls of the chopped off kissing scenes, and asks Alfredo can he have them. Alfredo tells Toto they all are his, but then they have to remain in the theatre with Alfredo. A disgruntled Toto leaves to his home. Back home, he takes a film strip, which he took from the theatre and keeps looking at it. Next day, Toto goes to school. While returning, he again runs off to the theatre, to see the new film being screened. He buys ticket with the money his mom gave to buy milk, and after the movie, while returning, his mom catches Toto and asks about the milk. Toto says the money is stolen, and gets beaten up. Alfredo sees this, and runs to the rescue of the boy. Alfredo says he found the money under a seat, and gives it to Toto’s mom. While going home, Toto turns to Alfredo, secretly winks at him. Alfredo too winks at Toto. We get to understand the love they both have towards each other, by this beautiful scene.

The next day, the father takes Toto out on scorching sun, and Toto sees Alfredo coming that way in his cycle. While Alfredo crosses them, Toto suddenly falls to the ground, pretending that he is wriggling in pain. The father asks Alfredo to take him to town, and so, Toto gets a ride with his beloved Alfredo. The conversation they both share during the cycle ride is a touching one, which shows how far Alfredo has understood the boy, and how far the boy loves Alfredo. They both have become intimate friends by now.

One day, Alfredo sees Toto’s mom beating him up, as he has left a few film strips under the bed, near the lamp and this has burnt down the films. Toto’s young sister gets burnt a little, and this makes the mom furious. She complains that everything is because of Alfredo. Alfredo assures her that henceforth, he will keep Toto out of the theatre.

The next day, when Toto comes to the theatre, Alfredo asks him to get out. Toto becomes sad and goes out. This continues for a few days. One day, while writing the final yearly exams, we see the teacher announcing that the night class students are here too for the exams, and enters Alfredo! Toto cannot control his laughter, and since Alfredo doesn’t know the lessons, he pleads Toto secretly to show him the paper. Toto asks Alfredo to promise that he will teach him how to operate the projector in the theatre, and a reluctant Alfredo finally agrees.

From here on, the boy gets trained by Alfredo on handling the projector. He learns fast, as he is an intelligent kid. He loves being in the theatre and seeing a lot of movies, and Alfredo is very happy too, being with Toto. We get to see the golden character of Alfredo, as one day he screens the film on the street, for all the people who are not able to visit the theatre. During the screening, suddenly the projector gets heated up and the theatre ultimately catches fire. While trying to extinguish the fire, Alfredo loses his eyesight.

A local don, Ciccio, builds a new theatre, and names it as Cinema Paradiso. Since Alfredo has lost his eyesight, the boy Toto is the new operator. Alfredo comes to the theatre after a few days, since he cannot sit at home. Toto is very happy that his beloved Alfredo has recovered from the accident. We see Alfredo fondly stroking Toto’s face and while the stroke gets completed, we see a young teenaged Toto.

Toto is still the operator, and advices Ciccio to repair the original burnt down theatre, so that they can have two theatres in the town.

By now, Toto has developed his interest towards filming. He films various sequences and plays them to Alfredo and explains him about the situation. Once, while filming the railway station, Toto sees a beautiful girl, and films her. From that day, Toto falls madly in love with the girl, and after a few tries, is able to gain the girl’s love. He tells everything to Alfredo. Alfredo is happy that he has found a love.

The girl’s father doesn’t like the love, and plans to move to some other city. Toto also gets a call from the army, as it is mandatory for everyone to attend the military training. During the final day, the girl tells that she will be there in the theatre to meet him, and Toto waits for her. She doesn’t turn up. So Toto asks Alfredo to take charge of the projection and he rushes to the girl’s house but he finds no one. He comes back to the theatre and enquires Alfredo about anyone coming to see him and Alfredo tells no one came. Toto realizes that the girl has left the town.

Alfredo takes Toto to the sea and advices him to forget everything and to start a new life. He asks Toto to leave the town, and to never return back, as it will give him bad memories. Alfredo convinces Toto to go out of town for a new career. Toto finally decides to leave to Rome. Alfredo advices Toto in the railway station that he must never come back, come what may the situation.

The train slowly starts, and Toto waves to everyone. The train catches full speed, and the next shot, we see a plane landing. The past and the present are beautifully linked through this scene, as we see now the acclaimed director Salvatore Di Vita, coming out from the plane. Salvatore visits his home after 30 years, and he goes to the funeral, meets everyone, and becomes nostalgic.

He sees a young girl, who exactly resembles his lost love. He tracks her and finds out that she is the daughter of Elena, his love interest in the past. He stands opposite Elena’s home and phones her. She tells him there is nothing to renew in their relationship, and she cuts the call.

A distressed Salvatore goes to the seashore. While he is standing there, he hears a car pulling up. It’s Elena. She asks him to get in, and says she wants to talk to him. She tells him how heartbroken she was during the final day when she promised him that she will meet him. She says she came to the theatre a bit late, and she found Alfredo there. She explained the situation to Alfredo, and Alfredo advised her to forget Toto, as they are not going to be united at all, since Toto is leaving to the army and she is leaving to the next town. Alfredo tells Elena that he will tell everything to Toto and asks her to go with her parents.

Elena scribbles everything in a piece of paper, when Alfredo thinks she‘s gone. She pins up the paper in the wall, with her future address, among the movie bills, for Toto to come to her. She leaves the town.

Hearing this, Salvatore becomes emotional. She tells him that there is nothing to worry about, as their fate has taken them on two different roads. She says she is happy to meet him now, after 30 years. They make love in the car.

Salvatore runs to the old theatre. He goes to the devastated projection room, and searches the paper and finds it. He realizes that Alfredo did everything for his goodness sake, since if he had married the girl, he would have stayed in the town, and he would not have made it as a director. His love for Alfredo becomes even more intense.

Before leaving the town, he wants to meet Elena again, but she tells that during their teenage, they never did what they did the previous night, and that forms the perfect end to the story. So she bids him adieu in the phone and says she will not meet him again. Alfredo’s wife gives Salvatore a parcel which Alfredo wanted to give to his beloved Toto. Salvatore starts to Rome.

It was a film reel, and back home, Salvatore goes to his projection theatre, asks the operator to play the reel and sits up in silence, all alone. The film begins. It’s the collection of all those chopped off kissing scenes which the little boy Toto wanted to have. Salvatore watches all the kisses being played on the screen, with tears flowing down his eyes. He cannot hide his love towards his beloved friend Alfredo, and cries, with his heart full of emotions towards his dead friend.

The film ends with this scene.

Cinema Paradiso is an emotional journey in to the life of Salvatore Di Vita. The entire movie is a collection of all his childhood memoirs. It has been excellently filmed, and while watching, we too start loving Alfredo, the operator, along with Toto. The scenes where Alfredo talks with Toto are just beautiful. The entire movie is nearly three hours long, but not even for a single minute, I was getting bored. Instead, I was highly engrossed all through the movie, and can very well say this is one of my all time great favorites.

The theatre plays a vital role all through the film. It is in this theatre that Toto learns everything. Finally, the theatre gets demolished, since there is no one to see old movies and since the city needs a parking lot. This is a powerful scene, as we see tears in Salvatore as well as many people’s eyes. The theatre means a lot for them, and when it is destroyed, they all react as if someone close to their heart passes away.

The direction is by Guiseppe Tornatore (Malena, Star maker). This Italian film was released in the year 1989 and won the Oscars for the best foreign film in 1990. Another highlight of the movie is the brilliant, touching music by Ennio Morricone. Morricone is the dada of Hollywood music, having immortal movies like Good, bad and the ugly, For a few dollars more, A fist full of dollars, Once upon a time in the west, The untouchables, The Battle of Algiers etc.. to his credit. He has scored for over a hundred films in his career, and is easily the best of all the Hollywood music directors and composers. He has scored an excellent background music, which just entwines the heart.

Cinema Paradiso will stand to be a great film, which portrays the beautiful relationship between a boy and an old man. Salutes to Guiseppe Tornatore and Ennio Morricone for making a gem of a movie!

PS:- A few scenes were copied from this film in to a Tamil movie called ‘Veyil’. All the scenes involving Pasupathi in the cinema theatre were copied from this film.

See the trailer here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

World Movie Series - 3 - Hotel Rwanda


They happen because of the hatred people have towards each other. When abhorrence develops in the minds of a group of people against their opponent caste, the results are dreadful. We read in newspapers frequently about one caste attacking the people of other caste in our villages (and cities too). Look at what’s happening in Sri Lanka. It is happening in Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir... Everywhere. Just imagine we are a part of this genocide. Around us, people are getting killed, and we don’t know when our turn will be. Lunatics are waiting outside to kill us at any time. What will our reaction be, in such a dreadful situation?

Hotel Rwanda is one such tale against genocides.

Paul Rusesabagina is the manager of a hotel in Kigali, Rwanda - Hotel Mille Collines. There are two major castes in Rwanda – The Hutu and the Tutsi. The Hutus are in power in 1994, and their president is Juvénal Habyarimana. We see Paul purchasing groceries for the hotel, in the initial scenes. He comes to the Hotel along with his assistant Dube. While Paul is working busy in the Hotel, Dube and others hear radio news which tells the President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane has been shot and the president has died in the crash.

The radio proclaims that the Tutsi caste is responsible for the crash as the president was a Hutu. The radio says the Tutsi’s are planning for an attack on the Hutus for a long time and now they have sparked the dynamite by assassinating the president. Tension mounts up in Kigali, and military is summoned to reinforce peace. The U.N also sends Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte) with an army to Kigali. The colonel talks to Paul and says things are under control, and the government is trying to reinforce peace all over the country.

There is an armed force named Interahamwe which absolutely hates the Tutsi caste. They proclaim in the radio that the Tutsis are cockroaches and they need to be killed to keep the country clean. Paul’s friend tells him the military is very minimal, and it won’t be able to control the crisis, if it happens. He also tells Paul to flee from the country, as his wife is a Tutsi. Paul assures his friend that the military will be able to control the crisis and even the U.N is here. All the world media is looking at the situation, and hence nothing would happen.

One man who is the neighbor of Paul comes to him and tells that the Interahamwe has decided to launch a brutal attack on the Tutsis. The code world will be ‘Cut the tall trees’. If this word is issued in the radio, it means the massacre will start. Paul worriedly comes in to his house and searches his wife and children, and they all are gathered in a room, with many other neighbors. The neighbors are Tutsis and they have come for refuge to Paul, since he is the ONLY Hutu who can be trusted. There is no power, too.

Next day, Paul goes to the hotel, and while traveling in the car, he switches on the radio, and suddenly hears the proclamation of ‘Cut the tall trees’ getting repeated again and again. Terrified, he reaches the hotel. The crisis has already begun. He runs to his home, and there is military which finds out he is sheltering Tutsis and the military says all the Tutsis are to be killed. Paul offers money to the military general, and saves those Tutsis and brings them all to his hotel.

In the Hotel, there are a lot of foreign people staying, and rooms are being allocated to all the refugees. Everywhere, it’s havoc outside, and Tutsis are killed in bunches. A woman from Red Cross brings in many Tutsi children and asks Paul to keep them safe. Paul hurriedly enquires to her about his sister-in-law, her husband and her two children who live near the school where the children are rescued, and he asks her to bring them here. She tells she‘ll try and goes off. Later he learns that the house is severely damaged and the parents are missing. The children are with an old lady living near their house.

Meanwhile, we see an army coming to the hotel to kill all the Tutsis. Paul calls the Hotel’s owners and they (Jean Reno) talk to the high authorities and as a result, the army withdraws. News reaches Paul that the while people are going to be rescued from the hotel by their countries and the black people are left as castaways. All the white people slowly move towards the buses waiting for them, and some of them (The news channel camera man Joaquin Phoenix) react about their spinelessness to help the blacks. The buses start, and in a beautiful shot, the poor black people who’ve left behind, stranded in the hotel, are shown. Rain pours down, and Paul takes everyone inside.

General Oliver tells Paul that he has received orders that some black people have got visas and they will be taken to the neighboring countries. In the list he reads out, Paul’s name is at the last. His wife and children are relieved that they are safe. When the truck comes to carry the blacks, after placing his family inside the truck, Paul whispers to a friend to take care of his family, and suddenly jumps out. He says he can’t leave the refugees as such, and goes to them. His wife cries, and the truck moves.

Back in the hotel, Paul learns from the radio that it’s an ambush to bring the people outside the hotel. Hutu fanatics attack the truck, and General Oliver somehow manages to bring the truck back to the hotel.

Now, all the routes are shut. Everywhere, it appears bleak, and Paul doesn’t know what to do. A policeman tells him that soon, the higher officials in the military will be thrown out, and then, everyone in the hotel will be killed. Paul goes to meet his friend to get groceries for the hotel, and after collecting them, the friend tells Paul to help to kill the cockroaches present inside, and if he helps, then he will be spared along with a few of the Tutsis. He asks Paul to take the road by the river, as it is the only clean road.

While traveling on the river road, the car bumps as if it’s been moving on rocks. Paul stops the vehicle and when he comes out, he staggers on something. When he looks at the road, he realizes that the entire road is filled with bodies! Thousands of bodies are lying on the road, making it a bloody sight. Paul cannot withstand the sight of his fellow countrymen lying as dead bodies, and he rushes to the hotel. He cries in a bathroom, and he tells his wife that if something happens to him, she has to go the terrace along with the children and jump down, as suicide is better than being tortured and killed.

He goes to a general in the Hutu army, who initially was Paul’s friend. Paul threatens the general that USA is carefully assessing the situation and when it attacks the Hutu army for the massacre, the general must need someone to vouch that the general was helping the Tutsi refugees. Paul says he will vouch for the general. Reluctantly, the general agrees to help Paul and with his help, all the refugees are brought to the neighboring city, and from there, to Tanzania.

In Tanzania, Paul is able to find the children of his sister-in-law. That was the only happiness to his family, after the attacks.

The movie ends with a beautiful song sung by children, when Paul and his wife take some more children to be accommodated in the bus to Tanzania.

Hotel Rwanda is a thumping tale. It’s a true story which portrays the massacre of millions of Tutsis by the Hutu fanatics. It happened in 1994, and it is estimated that almost 500,000 people were killed in the genocide. To read more about the Rwandan Genocide, take a look at this link.

If we think about it, genocides happen all around the world. Paul asks Dube in this film about why are genocides happening, and Dube gives a beautiful one word answer. It’s all due to hatred, he says. Hatred towards fellow people. If this hatred spreads among a community, then genocides happen. But, as seen in a touching manner in the movie, the people getting killed are in no way associated with the attacks at all. Only the innocent people, women and children die in these genocides.

The movie presents a soulful solution to stop genocides. It’s Love. Love towards a fellow human. Paul risks his life in saving more than 1000 refugees, who belong to his opposite caste. What was the need? He could have easily joined forces with his caste members, to kill the refugees. But instead, Paul chooses to save them. At the end, all the people thank Paul for saving their lives, and Paul smiles seeing the smile on their faces. Love must be the only solution in this world, the only solution which can create miracles.

Hotel Rwanda was released in 2005. Its an English film starring Don Cheadle as Paul, directed by Terry George. It was nominated for three Oscars (Best Actor, best supporting actor and Best Original Screenplay). The real Paul Rusesabagina and his wife accompanied the director while he went to Rwanda, and at that time, many people have welcomed him at the airport. This shows the power of Love, isn’t it?

See Hotel Rwanda, and get a feel of a single person’s iron will to save thousand people who have come to seek refuge under him. Hotel Rwanda is a classic, spreading the message of love against genocides.

See the trailer here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

World Movie Series - 2 - Amores Perros

In this world, our lives are affected by others as well. Sometimes, when we are in to our casual activities, we might have noticed about the part played by other people in our lives, which form a part of their day to day activities. All our lives are interconnected, thus. What will happen if three such lives collide together, with a series of incidents?

This forms the crux of Amores Perros.

The film begins with a car chase in Mexico. We see a car being chased fiercely by a truck. In the car are Octavio, a young lad, and his friend. They have a brutally wounded dog at the back seat. The truck advances towards the car, and the people in the truck point their gun towards the car and they start shooting. Octavio drives the car frantically, to escape the shooters and at the end of the chase, rams his car in to another car.

We immediately cut in to a chapter named ‘Octavio and Susana’.

We see a house. A lady approaches and opens it. As soon as the door is opened, a dog runs out, and the lady curses the dog, goes a few steps to catch it but returns empty handed, and goes in to the house. We then cut in to a crowded area, with the floors drenched with blood. There are two people standing in the middle of the small clearing, with each holding a huge dog. Both the dogs are barking fiercely and suddenly, they are released. They both fight ferociously and one dog is killed by the other dog. We see Jarocho, the owner of the winning dog. He comes out of the arena, with his gang, and his dog is still fierce. So he decides to let it out on the street dogs he sees, but we see El Chivo, a bearded man, looking like a beggar, standing near the dogs. They are HIS dogs.

Seeing El Chivo, Jarocho backs up and his friend points to a black dog standing on the other end of the road. It was the same dog which escaped from the house initially. Jarocho and his friends laugh out aloud and start chasing the dog, to let his dog fight and kill the black dog, to gratify its ferocity. We cut in to Octavio, who is the owner of the black dog. His door is knocked, and when he comes out, his friend tells that his black dog (Cofi) has killed Jarocho’s fierce dog, which was a champion in local dog fighting.

A surprised Octavio gets confronted by Jarocho, who tells that he needs to account for his dog’s death. Jarocho wants Octavio to handover Cofi to him. Octavio refuses, and goes in to the house. Jarocho warns Octavio and goes away.

Octavio has an elder brother, Ramiro. Susana is Ramiro’s wife. Octavio has known Susana even before her marriage with Ramiro, and he likes her. Ramiro is a rogue, who robs shops, and Susana is unhappy about this. Octavio tells Susana that they can run away to a new place, and start to live together. Susana tells Octavio he doesn’t understand, and she refuses. Octavio thinks it was due to the fact that he has no money, and hence, decides to compete in the Dog fights with his dog Cofi.

Octavio cuts a deal with the local thug Fatso, who arranges dog fights, to be in partnership for eight matches. Cofi goes on winning all the eight matches, killing mostly Jarocho’s dogs. Jarocho is enraged to the core.

Meanwhile, we see El Chivo, the beggar look alike, killing a person in a restaurant. We also see him read a newspaper, and he becomes emotional reading about the funeral of a lady. He goes to the funeral, attends it and talks to a lady. We come to know that he is talking to his sister-in-law and the lady died, was his wife. We learn that his daughter thinks he is dead. He then returns to his home.

We cut to Octavio’s brother Ramiro threatening him to give him half the money Octavio earns in the dog fight. Else, Ramiro says he‘ll shoot the dog.

We now see Daniel, publisher of a magazine, and his wife and two daughters. He secretly is talking to someone, and tells the person not to call him at home, since his wife is suspicious.

Now, Jarocho calls for a big match with Octavio. He places the bid as 40,000 pesos. Octavio has given all the money he won so far to Susana. Enraged by his brother Ramiro threatening him and by Ramiro’s ill treatment towards Susana, Octavio tells Fatso, the local goon, to beat up Ramiro. Ramiro gets beaten badly, and when Octavio comes home, he is told that Ramiro has gone away with his wife and child. Octavio instantaneously searches the money Susana has hidden, and it’s all empty. Susana has taken all the money with her. Octavio gets pissed off, and he anxiously arranges somehow for 20,000 pesos and goes to the match.

In the match, Jarocho’s dog is about to be killed by Octavio’s dog Cofi when Jarocho shoots Cofi. Octavio doesn’t expect this and shouts at Jarocho, who coolly orders Octavio to get out. Octavio takes the dying dog, comes out, but decides something, walks in, stabs Jarocho in his stomach, and runs out and goes off in his car. Jarocho’s friends chase Octavio in a truck, and we realize this is the first scene of the movie, where Octavio rams in to a car at the end of the chase.

We now are shown the next chapter of the movie – ‘Daniel and Valeria’.

We have already seen Daniel, publisher of a magazine. He has an affair with the supermodel Valeria, and he divorces his wife and comes to Valeria to live in an apartment. While Valeria is driving her car, suddenly another car rams on her car, and Valeria is badly injured. The screenplay blends two stories beautifully here – Octavio ramming his car at the end of the car chase and Valeria’s happiness shattered by the accident. Her leg is broken, and Daniel takes care of Valeria. Valeria has a dog, and one day the dog enters the opening in the wooden floor, in their apartment. From that day, Valeria becomes hysterical and she curses Daniel, who fights with Valeria. One day, while Daniel comes home, he finds the floor broken at many places, and Valeria, lying motionless in her room. The doctors tell Daniel that she has wounded her leg badly while trying to open the floor, and as a result, Gangrene has crept in, and they have removed her leg. This shatters Valeria totally, as she was a supermodel once.

The third chapter begins. ‘El Chivo and Maru’.

As we have seen, El Chivo is the beggar look alike, who actually was a revolutionist (A guerilla). He ran away from his wife and daughter with an intention of changing the world, but has failed in his attempt and is now a vagabond. His wife has died, and his daughter Maru thinks he is dead. He is approached by his friend, who introduces him a person and says El Chivo has to kill that person’s partner, as he is cheating him. El Chivo accepts, gets half the money and goes after the person he needs to kill. While he is about to shoot, El Chivo witnesses a terrible car accident. He sees a car ramming another car. He runs to see the driver (Octavio) shouting in pain in a car. El Chivo finds 20,000 pesos in Octavio’s packet and grabs the money. He also finds Octavio’s wounded dog (Cofi) and takes it home. People take Octavio to the hospital. In the crashed car, Valeria wriggles in pain, as her leg is broken.

El Chivo cleans the dog’s wounds and places it with his other dogs. He goes out and when he returns, he finds all his dogs killed by Cofi, and angrily, he takes his gun out to shoot Cofi, but he can’t shoot the dog. He then goes out and captures the person whom he was paid to kill. He brings him home, ties him up and reveals him that it was his partner who wanted El Chivo to kill him.

We cut to Octavio, attending his brother’s funeral (as his brother tries to rob a bank and gets shot by the person who comes to El Chivo for the killer deal). At the funeral, Octavio again asks Susana to run off with him. He tells her he’ll wait at the bus station the next day night. But, seeing Susana not turning up the next night, he walks sadly away from the bus.

Next day, El Chivo calls up that guy, tells him he has finished his partner, and asks him to come to El Chivo’s home with the remaining money.When he comes, he ties down that person also, and tells them both to settle their dispute and places a gun too, on the floor. He cuts his long hair, shaves, and takes all the money he gathered, and leaves for his daughter’s home. He sneaks in, places all the money, dials the daughter’s phone, and tells her that all his life, he was a loser, and when he deserted his wife and daughter years ago, he believed that he can change the world, and now he knows that he is a loser. He tells her he is alive, and one day when he is able to look at her eyes straight, he will return to her.

He leaves the house, starts walking on the road along with Cofi. The movie ends.

Amores Perros is a strong film about relationships, the love which we have underneath in our mind for the people we like, and how reality changes us. We see El Chivo as a murderer initially. But, as the movie progresses, we learn that he yearns for his wife and daughter like anything. He wants to live a peaceful life with them, and when he learns the news that his wife had died, he is not able to even go to his daughter, his only solace, and decant his grief. He goes to the cemetery like a beggar, stands there, watches his daughter from a distance, and returns.

At times, we see El Chivo sneak in to his daughter’s house, and once he steals the photograph which has his wife and her sister with his wife’s husband. He sticks his photograph on the face of his wife’s husband, and later on, after he has shaven his beard, takes new photographs and replaces his old bearded one in the picture. He places it at the end at his daughter’s house, before leaving the house. This shows the love he has in his mind towards his daughter with whom he could never be able to live. . .

This Spanish movie got released in the year 2001. It was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 grams, Babel). The movie was nominated for the Oscars under best foreign language film in 2001. The screenplay is unique, as it first shows an incident (accident) and then links the lives of three people as to how their lives got changed after the accident. A striking film, which is very realistic, I’m sure Amores Perros will capture your heart.

PS:- In 2002, Mani Rathnam made a copycat attempt of this movie. It was released as ‘Aytha Ezhuthu’ in Tamil and as ‘Yuva’ in Hindi. It was a failure, as it had many irrelevant scenes. The initial accident sequence was exactly copied in this movie, and the non linear screenplay of the movie too was copied. But since it has too many irrelevances, the movie ultimately flopped.

See the trailer here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

World Movie Series - 1 - The Road Home

Before starting this series, I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks for Cheziyan who wrote a wonderful article in Vikadan about world cinema which ran for around a year– the article which introduced me a lot of world movies.

There are moments in our lives which we want to keep green throughout. The moments which stay alive and which form the base of every single thought occurring in our minds, every single time. What will happen if we share those thoughts with our children and they imagine about those evergreen memories of their parents? Well, it will result in a peaceful, serene feeling in their minds combined with their love and respect towards their parents.

‘The Road Home’ is one such journey in to the mind of a young man who recollects the romantic story of his parents.

Luo Yusheng is returning to his village from the city where he lives, after receiving the news about his father’s death the previous night. His father was a schoolteacher in the village school for 40 years. Luo comes to his village, filled with snow everywhere, and reaches his home. The mayor of the village meets him, and briefs him about his father’s death. The school building has become very old, and his father, passionate about the school and the students, decides to raise money to rebuild it. He starts his travel to places wherever he can find money. The father asks various people to donate money to the school, and while on a journey, gets caught in a violent snowstorm, falls sick and ultimately dies, without fulfilling his dream of rebuilding the school. His body is kept at the city hospital, far away from the village.

The mayor tells Luo Yusheng about his grief stricken mother. He briefs that the mother wants to observe all the traditional customs prevalent in the village. Especially, she wants the father’s body to be carried my men, all along the way from the city hospital, to the village. She refuses to bring the body in a vehicle. Having heard this, the son enquires the mayor about where he can find his mom, as she is not in the house. The mayor says she is in the old school building. She goes there and stays from the moment the father has died.

The son goes to the school building. It is in a very bad shape, and the mother is sitting at the entrance, facing the school. The son touches his mother’s shoulder. The mother becomes emotional seeing her son, and she weeps, tells him about his father’s death. He brings his mother home, and at home, the mother asks her son to repair the old loom in the house. She tells him that she wants to weave a cloth to be covered on the father’s coffin. The son pleads his mother not to strain herself, but the mother insists on weaving the cloth, and the son repairs it and keeps it ready.

As the mother starts weaving the cloth in the loom, the son thinks about how his parents met for the first time. His voice starts briefing, as we cut in to a colorful farm, with beautiful mountains at the background, and we see a long road. The son tells that his father was 20 and the mother 18, when they first met. The father was the new school teacher for the newly built school in the village. That was the day when the father arrives to the village, and the village people gather around the school to welcome the new teacher. That was the first time a school is built in the village, and hence the people are elated.

An innocent village girl, Di, hears about the teacher, and she too comes to the school to see him. The first ever time she sees this new teacher, she starts to like him, and a childlike affection develops in her heart. She comes home and briefs her blind mother about the new teacher.

The next day, Di gets ready to cook a meal, as it is customary for the village people to cook for the people working in a new building. The teacher and the fellow villagers are giving the final touches to the newly built school, and hence all the village women cook for the people working at the school. Di chooses a beautiful ceramic bowl, cooks delicious onion bread, and places it at the school. She stands among other women, eagerly looking at her bowl. Somebody takes it in to the school, and after a while, it comes out empty. This continues for three days, and Di enquires a fellow villager, who is working in the school, about how the new teacher eats. The villager says that the teacher eats inside the school, and they offer him the first ever meal they pick from outside.

Di brings water everyday from a well. There are two wells situated, one near her house and the one near the school, which is a bit distant. Di chooses to bring water from the well near the school, as she hopes she can get a glance of the new teacher. Every day while taking water and returning, she looks at the school, hearing the voice of the teacher. She also waits near the long road from the school in the evenings, as the teacher would walk a few students home. She hides behind the trees and looks at the teacher everyday. Once, the teacher spots her and gives her a smile. She becomes elated, and tells him that it is her turn to cook for the teacher the next afternoon. The teacher acknowledges and leaves. She runs away full of shyness, and the teacher calls her, points to her bag, and she comes, picks it and runs away. The teacher asks her name to a student and learns it as Di. The student shouts at Di that the teacher is asking her name, and the teacher smiles, walks away.

The next day, Di cooks a meal for the teacher. He comes to her house, and while eating, Di keeps looking at him, from the kitchen. When the teacher looks at Di, she turns away. After the meal, the teacher says it was delicious, and Di asks will he be interested in eating mushrooms, and he says he will eat it in the evening, when he returns. While the teacher is gone, the blind mother warns Di that the teacher is of a different class, and it won’t work out. Di starts cooking mushrooms, and while cooking, the teacher comes to Di, says goodbye as he has to leave the village, since the management doesn’t want him there (they think he is a revolutionist). A heartbroken Di asks when will he return, and he says he will return by 27th, as the vacation begins from 28th, and he needs to be there. He says he will come after a while to eat the mushrooms. He gifts Di with a red hairpin, and says it will match her only red jacket. Di is elated to the core, as her beloved teacher has gifted her.

After a while, Di learns that the teacher has started to the city. She hurriedly places the hot mushrooms in the same ceramic bowl, and she runs to give it to the teacher. While she is running, she trips and falls down. The bowl breaks in to pieces, and the mushroom spills away. Di slowly picks up the broken pieces, and tears start rolling down her eyes. She is very innocent, and she is not able to bear the fact that her beloved teacher is gone.
Voluntarily, she touches her hair to reach out the hairpin the teacher has gifted, and to her dismay, the hairpin has fallen somewhere. A heartbroken Di slowly walks home, sobbing all the way. We hear the son’s voice – “From that day, mom was searching for the hairpin every single day, all through the long road”. One day, she finds it at the entrance of her house.

At home, she keeps visiting the school building. One day, while she returns home, she finds the broken bowl mended perfectly. It’s her blind mother. Not able to withstand a heartbroken Di, her mom mends it. On 27th, at the dawn of the first light, Di rushes to the long road, and amidst a heavy snowfall, keeps waiting for the teacher all through the day. The teacher doesn’t come, and she returns home with a high fever. The next day, she starts to the city to find the teacher, and while she is walking on the road, due to the heavy snowfall, faints.

The mayor brings her home, and soon the news is spread all through the village about Di’s love towards the teacher. As the village is a very strict place with a lot of rules, this news is not welcomed in the village. Di awakens from her sickness one day, and the blind mother tells her that the teacher is back! He was there the previous evening, and sat a long time with Di. Di runs to the village school, and someone shouts that Di is there and the teacher comes out. Di starts crying.

The next day, the teacher has to leave to the town again. Di stands lonely at the long road, and we hear the son’s voice at the background. “That day, father had to leave to the town. Mom was waiting for father, with her heart filled with love. After a few days, father returned, and from then on, father never left mother”.

The flashback ends, and we return to the mother working at the loom. The son meets the mayor and they decide to hire men from the next village to carry the father’s coffin. They go to the city, and the mother too accompanies. They bring the father’s coffin, and hearing the news about the teacher’s death, his old students gather around, and they decide to carry the coffin. They refuse the money, and the journey begins. The mom slowly walks the long road, where she and her husband have walked together for many times. The mother wants the father to remember the road the last time, and that’s why she asks the coffin to be carried.

They reach the village. The coffin is buried near the well where the mother used to fetch water. The mom tells to bury her at the same place, after her death. The mom tells the son that it is her wish to see the son take the class at his father’s place, at least for one day. The son tells he has work in the city and got to go the next day.

The next day, the mom is awakened by the sound of the children reciting the lessons. Her husband’s lessons! She rushes to the school to find her son taking lessons there! Elated, tears flow down her old face, as slowly the scene changes to a young Di, eagerly waiting outside the school, hearing the father’s voice, teaching the lessons. The camera slowly shifts to the long road, where we see a young Di, running happily, after having picked up her bag, after talking-to the teacher. The movie ends with this shot.

‘The Road Home’ is a great film, about the golden memories we cherish in our heart. The film talks about the mother’s love towards the father, her affection to the school, her longing for the father and her innocence. The current scenes with the son are in black and white while the flashback scenes are in color. The cinematography is excellent accompanied by the realistic music.

This Chinese movie was released in 2000. It was directed by Yimou Zhang starring Zhang Zi Yi (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha) as Di (her debut). It won many awards, and is a very nice film. Try seeing it, and feel the aroma of your golden memories.

See the trailer here.

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