Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 7 - The Last Lear


Watching movies is a really good experience. It might give you new ideas, might totally change your mood and might leave you refreshed. I write mostly about foreign movies, and I have seldom written about Indian films. There are a few Indian directors who match and who sometimes exceed the best of the world’s finest directors. One such director is Rituparno Ghosh. Now, I first saw Ghosh in his ‘Raincoat’, starring Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai. It touched my heart and it still is one of the best movies I have ever seen, in any language. Inspired by an O Henry story, it’s a beautiful romantic tale. From then on, I knew this is a director who can make marks with his quality movies, in the world cinema.

‘The Last Lear’ too, didn’t disappoint me. Nicely filmed, it’s a trade mark Rituparno Ghosh movie. It stars Amitabh Bachchan in a very different kinda role. It has Preity Zinta and Arjun Rampal, again in two offbeat, different roles. I want to see such kind of movies to be taken more frequently in India.

The movie begins when we learn from the leading actors that there is going to be a premiere of a new movie of director Siddharth. The leading lady Shabnam is getting ready to visit someone, and she tells her husband she is not going to the premiere. Her husband always suspects that she is seeing someone, and tortures her and sprays her perfume all over her face. She runs out, and goes to a house.

Back at the premiere, director Siddharth is seeing the movie all alone, to check about the scenes and the shots. He finishes watching it when press people want his interview outside the theatre. Strangely, he stays aloof from all the celebration of the premiere. His friend Gowtham comes in to the scene, and through Gowtham, we start to learn about what happened during the movie shoot, in a flashback.

Harish ‘Harry’ Mishra a greatly talented thespian, has refrained himself from acting for a few years. He stays in his home all the time. Once Gowtham, a reporter, goes to interview Harish and is driven out of the home when he doesn’t know the names of the characters in ‘A midsummer night’s dream’, a play by Shakespeare. Harish is a specialist in Shakespearian plays, and has a deep respect towards the celebrated playwright.

Through Gowtham, Siddharth comes to know about Harish, and he decides Harish will be perfect for the leading role in his new movie. So, he goes to Harish’s home and gradually becomes a friend of Harish, since he too is a Shakespeare fanatic. Slowly, Siddharth makes Harish to accept the offer.

What is happening to Shabnam is also shown in intercuts. She has gone to Harish’s home, to see him. Harish is paralyzed and is lying in the bed, without any consciousness. We learn that something has happened in the film shoot which resulted in Harish’s present condition. We meet a lady named Vandana who looks after Harish, and the nurse. The nurse is anxiously waiting for her boyfriend finally to pick her up, so that they can start a new living. She complains to Vandana and Shabnam though, that he at times tortures her by asking stupid questions like where is she, what is she doing in the night etc.. Shabnam too says she has the same treatment from her husband.

Back in the flashback, the film shoot is happening in an outdoor hill station, and due to the harsh treatment from her husband, Preity is gloomy, sitting alone, memorizing the dialogues in a mechanical way, when Harish sees her. He comes to her, talks to her to bring out her emotions, as she can act well only if she is able to bring them out. If she is sad, it will affect the takes and hence, she must get rid of the sadness. He convinces Shabnam and she finally cries out aloud, bringing all her emotions out. From that day, they both become good friends. Harish teaches Shabnam some great dialogues from Shakespeare’s plays.

The film is nearing the climax, and Siddharth is planning to shoot the climax. One night, when Siddharth and Harish are enjoying a drink, Siddharth tells Harish that he has a dupe planned for the climax, and this makes Harish sad, as he says he has never used a dupe in his plays so far and he wants to act in the climax himself. The climax has been written in such a way that the leading actor jumps from a hill top, and hence Siddharth says it might be dangerous for Harry to act in it, but Harry falls in Siddharth’s feet, begging him to grant him the opportunity of completing the climax. Finally, a reluctant Siddharth agrees.

The day arrives. Everything is set for the climax. The climax is shot, and Harry jumps off the cliff. Siddharth notices Harry holding the branches below the cliff, for balance and because of this, the shot has not come well. So, he grabs the mike and orders for a re-take. Being a perfectionist himself, his mind is thinking only about how to film the shoot, and hence he secretly orders people to cut the branches. When no one comes forward, he cuts them himself, and when Harry jumps from the cliff during the re-take, he falls down and breaks his spinal chord and falls unconscious.

Shabnam goes in to Harry’s room, and sees an unconscious Harry. Vandana tells her that Harry stopped acting in plays, since people were commenting about their relationship. They are not married, and are living together. Now, Shabnam slowly starts reading passages from Shakespeare and slowly Harry opens his eyes. He too starts uttering the dialogues, as the movie ends.

Amitabh Bachchan has rendered an excellent performance as Harish ‘Harry’ Mishra. The respect he has towards his plays and his funny comments towards films portray his character well. He has a deep yearning towards playing as King Lear, his most favorite role, and while he was about to play the character, he stopped acting in the plays, Vandana tells Shabnam. The way Siddharth convinces Harry to act in the movies is a touchy, yet enjoyable part of the film.

Amitabh Bachchan has lived the role of Harry, and I would easily say this is one of his greatest performances, if not the best.

Another masterpiece from Rituparno Ghosh, The Last Lear is a very realistic film which introduces us the eccentric as well as the passionate Harry, as the tagline says.

See the trailer here.

World Movie Series - 26 - 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

How far would you go for a friend?

This is the tagline for the movie ‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ (4 luni, 3 saptamâni si 2 zile), a Romanian movie. Set in the days of 1987 in Romania, the movie talks about a day in the lives of two friends, Otilia & Gabriela. They both are roommates in a dormitory of the college they are studying. The movie begins when they both are packing for what looks like a trip. But that thought gets changed when Gabriela comments to Otilia that she packs like they are going for a picnic. Otilia gives her a dry look and buys soap and cigars from the other students in the dorm. Gabriela asks Otilia can she bring her exam notes to study, and Otilia says yes.

Otilia goes out to meet her boyfriend Adi. She asks him about the money and Adi hands over her the money she asked for. Adi invites her to visit his home that evening as it’s his mom’s birthday. He also asks her to get some flowers. Otilia says she can’t come that evening as she has some important work. Adi starts persuading her and finally she gives in.

Otilia then goes to a hotel to confirm a room which was booked by Gabriela the previous day through phone, but the receptionist argues to her that it was not confirmed and no body called the previous day to book the room. Otilia pleads the receptionist that she desperately needs the room, but the cold receptionist denies it and asks her to leave.

Otilia goes to another hotel to book a room, and from the receptionist, she learns that a double room is available. She books it, asks Gabriela to occupy the room and she goes to meet a man named Bebe. When meeting Bebe, he enquires Otilia about where is Gabriela and she tells that Gabriela is sick. Bebe tells her that it is a part of the agreement that Gabriela has to meet him and not Otilia, and after knowing that the room has been booked in a cheaper hotel than the originally planned one, Bebe gets angry. He tells Otilia that he is totally unhappy on them for breaking the rules.


He then visits the hotel. At the reception, he has to hand over his id. While in the room, he explains to both the girls that he has risked his life by giving the id in the reception and that if caught, can get years of imprisonment. Only then, it becomes evident that he has come to do an abortion for Gabriela.

He enquires Gabriela about the pregnancy and gets to know that she is on her fourth month, as opposed to what she initially told to him in phone that she is only 2 months with her pregnancy. This infuriates Bebe further more. When the girls offer him 3000 lei (Romanian currency), he says he didn’t talk about the money initially. Also, Gabriela had lied initially to Bebe that Otilia is her sister, but he learns that they both are just roommates. He makes it clear to the girls that he wants to have sex with both of them before he aborts the baby.

Otilia reluctantly agrees, as there is no other way. Bebe has sex with both the girls, and then he performs the abortion by using a probe, pouring something like a fluid in to her vagina. He tells her not to move, and when the fetus comes out, he asks her to dispose it, and leaves.

Otilia and Gabriela are left alone. After a few minutes soaked with the pressure of intolerable silence, Otilia tells Gabriela that it’s a foolish move to have hired Bebe and instead, they would have gone to the other lady suggested by one of her friends. Gabriela says they chose Bebe only because he was cheap, and it was Otilia who decided on it. Otilia retorts back that she didn’t chose Bebe and she only suggested going to the cheaper option. She then says nothing can be undone now, since things have happened in this way.

After a while, she gets ready to visit her boyfriend’s home for his mother’s birthday. She gets a tram and reaches his home a bit late. She is totally torn in to pieces inside, but attends the party for the sake of her boyfriend. In the party, both Adi’s parents and their friends keep on blabbering about the society and their old days and how Adi likes potatoes and boring things. Otilia remains silent throughout. One of the guests gives a lecture on family values when Otilia asks for a cigar, and how girls should remain as girls by not smoking with the elderly people in their family. Finally, when the party ends, both Otilia and Adi go to Adi’s room, and they start talking about the reason she arrived late. Otilia tells Adi that she was helping Gabriela for the abortion, and Adi seems disturbed. He says he is against abortions, and adds later that it was only because it’s dangerous. Otilia starts arguing with Adi about what will happen if Otilia gets pregnant since last week he blew up inside her as against to her repeated warnings. Adi tells, if she becomes pregnant, he will marry her. This infuriates Otilia further. She becomes totally irritated, as she can’t just digest everything that has happened to her since that morning. She decides to leave when Gabriela doesn’t answer her call, and in spite of Adi’s protests that she needs to talk to her parents before leaving, Otilia leaves the home.

Otilia reaches the room, and learns that Bebe has left his id in the reception. Back at the room, Gabriela tells Otilia that the fetus has come out, and it is in the bathroom. Otilia goes in to the bathroom and finds the dead fetus on the floor. She wraps the fetus with towels and goes out to dispose it. Gabriela pleads her to bury the baby, and she leaves. She moves here and there with the fetus in hand, and finally, goes to the top of a building and drops the fetus in to a trash tube.

She then returns to the hotel. She finds Gabriela in the dining hall, as she is famished. Otilia tells to Gabriela that they both have to forget about the whole incident, and they are never to talk about it in their lives again. Gabriela doesn’t answer, and after a few minutes of silence, Otilia drinks some water. The movie ends.

‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ is a striking film about the modern day youth and the difference between the society of the youth and that of the elderly people. Through the discussion happening at the dining table in Adi’s mom’s birthday party, we learn that the elderly people are still in the mirage of ‘family values’ when there is nothing like that in reality, and the youth are more concerned on living their day today life, instead of worrying about morality and ‘family values’. Also, we get to know about the relationship between Adi and Otilia. It gets sour day by day, as Otilia snorts to Adi that she is not ready to prepare potatoes to Ad all through her life. Otilia is a more practical person than Adi who is more like a person who believes in his family and all the old values his parents suggest.

The relationship between Otilia and Gabriela is another important thing in the movie. Although Otilia doesn’t like all the lies of Gabriela to Bebe, she stills feels that she must support her roommate by all means, and as a result, loses herself to Bebe because of his demands. She tries to be a bold person throughout, and fights with her boyfriend for the sake of her friend.

‘4 Months, 3 weeks & 2 days’ was released in the year 2007 and won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes film festival in the same year. It also won many international awards, and was received well by the critics and the Romanian people. It was directed by Cristian Mungiu.

Overall, the movie raises a lot of questions in our mind. When I bought the DVD, the owner of the DVD shop said to me that if he has the powers, he will make every college in the country to screen the movie. To me, I think there is no meaning to rules if they don’t support and help he people, and there is no use in opposing something when it is inherent in the society around us. Instead, it will be good if critical issues like abortions are looked upon with a kind heart, rather than an iron fist.

Watch the trailer here.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 6 - As good as it gets


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The fourth most common psychotic disorders in the world. When someone suffers with OCD (as it is called), they are doing certain things repetitively, in order to drain out the stress they have developed in their minds. By doing something repetitively, the stress, they believe, slowly disappears. They will not be able to do things the way a normal man or woman does.

Okay. Fullstop. This is not an essay on OCD, but before writing the review, thought the first paragraph will be useful to proceed further.

Now, Jack Nicholson. One of the extremely talented actors Hollywood has ever produced. When I think about Nicholson, the thought of Clint Eastwood comes naturally to my mind. What Eastwood does behind the camera, Nicholson does it in front of the camera. Movies like Chinatown, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining, Batman, The Departed are a few of his masterful flicks which showcase his uncanny acting prowess. To me, he is the kind of actor who can portray any emotion effortlessly, while acting.

When Jack Nicholson plays an OCD patient, there’s naturally a lot to enjoy. In this movie, Melvin Udall is a writer, who has published more than 60 books. He lives alone in his apartment, having regularized his life based on his OCD. He is systematic to certain traits like washing his hands many times, locking his door five times, walking on the road in a particular pattern, eating out in a particular restaurant wanting the service of a particular waitress etc.. He doesn’t want to be disturbed at all, and when disturbed, his magnanimous egoistic attitude is unleashed on the person who disturbed him, resulting in a flurry of utterly insulting abuses which makes the world to think that Melvin is a total loser.

Deep inside, Melvin is like a child. He cares for affection, but has his ego blocking his way when he wants to let out his affection. As a result, he neither receives affection nor is able to bring it out from his heart.

His lonely life is disturbed when he needs to take good care of his neighbor’s dog which he threw down the garbage line once. His neighbor is a painter, who gets severely attacked when he gets robbed. As a result, the painter’s manager, who once was abused by Melvin, forces him to take care of the dog which Melvin totally dislikes, but can’t do anything, since the manager threatens to attack Melvin if he says no. As a result, the dog gets to live in Melvin’s house for a few weeks, and slowly Melvin begins to love the dog.

Meanwhile, Carol, the waitress whom Melvin always prefers when he dines out in a particular restaurant, takes a days leave as her son Spence is suffering from acute asthma. This pisses Melvin off, as he doesn’t want to be served by anyone else. So, Melvin arranges for a checkup to Carol’s son, which Carol considers as the greatest help she has ever received from anyone. Although she doesn’t like Melvin coz of his attitude, she accepts the help, out of her love towards her son. Melvin slowly gets attracted towards Carol, but as usual, his ego steps in, totally blocking him to mention to Carol that he likes her. He continues to act arrogantly.

Melvin’s neighbor, the painter, comes home from the hospital and wants the dog back. Melvin doesn’t want to part ways with the dog, but pretends as if he doesn’t love the dog and gives it to the painter. The painter, because of his injuries and his broken hand, is not able to continue painting, and he becomes broke, as his apartment is up for sale to meet his medical expenses. He decides to borrow money from his parents, whom he has not spoken to, for many years. The painter’s manager comes to Melvin and entrusts the job of driving the painter to his hometown in his convertible, as he is busy with some work, and Melvin agrees, as Carol, the waitress, says she would love to go on a trip in a convertible. Melvin invites Carol and she reluctantly agrees for the t rip.

While in the trip, Carol and the painter develop a friendship and this annoys Melvin. Melvin thinks they both love each other, and the series of events in the hometown of the painter, add fuel to Melvin’s attitude and ego. He insults carol with his verbal attack and she decides not to talk to Melvin anymore. The painter, after seeing Carol while she is about to take bath, gets impressed by her beauty and starts to paint again, and they all return home without asking money from the painter’s parents.

Back home, the painter comes to live with Melvin for a few days as his apartment is up for sale, and he makes Melvin to understand and realize about his love towards Carol. Carol calls Melvin to express her apology for being so indifferent to Melvin, and the painter convinces Melvin to run to Carol’s home. Melvin, for the first time in his life, listens to a person, and decides to run to Carol’s home.
He reaches Carol’s home and invites her to the coffee shop at the corner of the road, the time being 4 AM! Carol comes with him, and while walking on the deserted toad, Melvin says he needs to compliment Carol. In spite of Carol’s resistance, he says the following dialogue:

‘I might be the only person on the face of the earth that knows you're the
greatest woman on earth. I might be the only one who appreciates how amazing you
are in every single thing that you do, and how you are with Spencer, "Spence,"
and in every single thought that you have, and how you say what you mean, and
how you almost always mean something that's all about being straight and good. I
think most people miss that about you, and I watch them, wondering how they can
watch you bring their food, and clear their tables and never get that they just
met the greatest woman alive. And the fact that I get it makes me feel good,
about me’

Carol gets dumbfounded, as she understands the love Melvin has towards her. They both walk in to the coffee shop, as we see Melvin walking casually, without following all the OCD patterns he usually does while walking. The movie slowly fades out.

Throughout the movie, Nicholson brings out his best. All the face twitches and expressions he displays during the various scenes where he has to react to people, who think him as a sucker, are just great. He has lived like an OCD patient. We clearly are able to understand what a loner he is, and how he yearns for love and affection. That is the success of his acting.

Helen Hunt as Carol, has acted very naturally. The scene where she cries to her mother that she too has emotions towards her own life, where she is unable to get even a date, due to the problems of her son, and how desperate she is when she looks out at people and their families, is one of the best scenes of the movie.

I heard from a friend of mine that last week, in one of the biggest hospitals in Coimbatore, this movie was screened for the patients, to ascertain that love can change lives. Affection and love towards fellow people can change even the toughest of fates, and that is what is expressed throughout the movie.

The movie garnered two Oscars for Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in 1998.

One of the great films which talk about love and affection, watch ‘As good as it gets’ and feel the ability of one of the best actors of our times.

See the trailer here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 5 - Eyes Wide Shut


Bill kept walking.

He was walking hurriedly, but without any immediate destination or target to reach. He just wanted to walk. He didn’t care about the cold night. All around him, the streets were buzzing, with people trying to make their Christmas purchases. Bill’s mind was numb, and his brain was repeatedly flashing the thought of Alice making love with the Naval officer she was referring in an estranged conversation with Bill, early that night. He can’t get the images away from his brain, as the effect of the marijuana he took still made his mind to think deeply about Alice.

Bill kept walking.

A day before…

Bill and Alice were attending the party of Victor Ziegler, a very rich friend, and a patient of Bill. Alice gets drunk in the party, while Bill meets two models. While Bill talks to the models, a stranger approaches Alice, and invites her to dance with him. She dances, and the stranger gradually tries to take her upstairs to seduce her. Alice is able to deny the offer, out of her love towards her husband, and Bill is able to deny the offer from the models, coz of his love towards Alice. Bill is summoned by Ziegler as a girl gets overdosed with heroine and cocaine. Bill treats the girl, and after she gains consciousness, promises to Ziegler that his lips are sealed.

Bill also meets an old college friend of him, Nick Nightingale, who dropped out from the medical school and now a pianist. Nick invites Bill to the bar where he’ll be playing for the next two weeks, and leaves.

Back home, the next night, while Bill and Alice smoke Marijuana, Alice questions Bill about the two models in the party, and Bill in turn questions Alice about the stranger she was dancing with. Alice slowly reveals about a naval officer she met the previous year during a vacation, and how she yearned for him. She says she was ready to spend a night with him, leaving Bill and their daughter. But, out of her love towards Bill and their daughter, she was able to resist the temptation.

Bill becomes frustrated by her open statement, and he gets a call that one of his patients has died. While going to the dead patient’s home, Bill meets the dead man’s daughter, who tries to kiss Bill, revealing her love towards the handsome doctor. Bill leaves the place and he starts to walk in the streets of New York.

Bill meets a girl called Domino, who’s a prostitute, and goes to her home. While kissing the girl, Bill gets a call from Alice and this makes Bill to come out of Domino’s home. Bill pays her, though.

Bill then goes to the bar where Nick Nightingale plays, and while talking with Nick, Nick gets a call. He hurriedly scribbles ‘Fidelio’ in a paper, and tries to leave. Bill persuades Nick to tell him about the word and learns that there is going to be a secret gathering, the password for the entrance being ‘Fidelio’. Bill becomes curious to attend it. Nick tells Bill he can only attend it if he wears a long cloak with a mask, as the identities of the people attending the gathering will not be revealed.

Bill goes to a costume shop of his friend, and learns that his friend has shifted, and meets the new owner. He rents a cloak and a mask, the prerequisites for the meeting.



Bill rents a taxi and goes to the meeting. When he moves in, he learns that it is a huge mass which practices a sexual ritual, where humans enact gods and have sex with females. Everyone is masked inside the house. There are many females in the center of the room, performing the ritual, seated in a circle, and one by one, they are released from the circle, and they pick men from the gathering. One girl approaches Bill and warns him that he is in great danger and he must leave immediately.

While walking inside the house, Bill notices masked people making love in all poses and in all the places inside. Suddenly, he is approached by a masked waiter, and is summoned to the center of the hall. A man in a red cloak questions Bill about the second password to attend the ritual, and Bill replies he has forgotten it. As a result, Bill is ordered to remove his mask. He is further ordered to remove his cloths, when the girl appears and tells that she is ready to accept whatever they are doing to Bill, and Bill must be freed.

As a result, Bill is freed with a warning that if he reveals anyone about the ritual, his entire family will be wiped out. Bill returns home.

The next day, Bill goes to the same house in the morning, and is handed over a letter by someone inside the house. It states that Bill must discontinue all his attempts to find out the secret of the house. Bill returns to meet Nick to know all the secrets, but learns that Nick has checked out very early in the morning. Bill goes to Domino’s apartment again, and learns from Domino’s friend that Domino was declared HIV positive that morning from a blood test. While Bill walks away, he identifies a man following him. While trying to hide, Bill reads a newspaper which states that an ex-beauty queen has died coz of drug overdose, which warns Bill. He goes to the hospital mortuary, and identifies the model as the girl who saved him the previous night, and it was the same girl Bill helped earlier in Ziegler’s party.

Confused, Bill returns from the hospital and is summoned to Ziegler’s home.

What happened to Bill? Did he learn the secrets behind the masked ritual? Why did the girl die? What happened to Bill’s wife Alice?

Try to see the movie and find the answers.

‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is the last film of Stanley Kubrick. He died just after four days of presenting the director’s cut of the movie to Warner bros... Throughout the movie, we can easily take note of Kubrick’s mastermind – the way he has placed the shots and the way he has made the actors to ‘act’ – a point noted here is that the movie took more than 400 days to shoot – That is the mastery of Kubrick, where he creates the movie shot by shot, scene by scene.

The way Tom Cruise’s character has been portrayed - a handsome doctor with a huge female following – reminded me of ‘Parthale Paravasam’, a film by ‘Iyakkunar Imayam’ Balachander where he portrayed madhavan’s character exactly similar to that of Tom Cruise. But that‘s expected from KB. Take a look at ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ – a masterpiece by Ritwik Ghatak and you will absolutely be astounded to see the similarities it holds from ‘Aval Oru Thodargadhai’ by KB.

Sydney Pollack has acted as Ziegler. Nicole Kidman as Alice. The movie holds some fantastic scenes like that of how Bill torments himself by imagining about the love making of the naval officer and his wife and the magnanimous mystic ritual in the middle of the movie – the ritual has an excellent music score which chills the spine, with an eerie sensation.

Two incidents are linked with perfection in the movie. When Bill returns home from the ritual, he finds Alice laughing in her sleep, and Alice tells him she dreamt about standing naked among hundreds of people, who make love within themselves, and after making love to the naval officer, she makes love with many more in her dream. Just hours before, Bill had attended such a ritual in person – he was among the people who were making love with each other. These two layers are linked in the mind of the viewer, through the mastery of Kubrick. He leaves the judgment to the viewer.

To me, it was a great ride of emotions throughout the movie, and I liked it a lot. It has certain allegorical representations as well, but overall, a satisfying experience.

See the trailer here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 4 - Dances with Wolves


I am a fan of Kevin Costner for a long time. Amazingly, the movie I saw to become his fan was not a critically acclaimed one, like ‘The Untouchables’ or ‘The Bodyguard’ or ‘Waterworld’ or ‘Wyatt Earp’ or ‘Open range’ or JFK’ or many more, but a cheesy action flick named ‘3000 Miles to Graceland’. I saw it after a year of its release (2002) and immediately became a fan of this talented actor. The character he plays (Murphy) in the film is a memorable one to me, and I still remember how angry Murphy will be when one mentions any jokes about Elvis Presley in the film. He holds a ‘connection’ to Presley in the movie.

Well, this post is about ‘Dances with Wolves’ and not ‘3000 miles to Graceland’. Hence, we will see about the masterpiece movie which he has directed.

‘Dances with Wolves’ is originally a screenplay written by Michael Blake. In the book ‘Four screenplays’ by Syd Field, Syd writes about the film in detail. He explains about how the screenplay was written and how Costner kept supporting Blake while he finished it, and how Costner decided to make the film and asked Blake in turn to write the novel. Costner supported Blake coz it was Blake’s novel, named ‘Stacy’s Knights’ which was made in to a film, and it starred a young Costner, in the early years of his movie career.

Blake finished the novel after much struggle, and when it was published, it attracted a very limited audience. Then, Costner started to film the screenplay. It was the year 1990 when ‘Dances with Wolves’ was released. Costner made his directorial début. The film won 7 Oscars including the best director Oscar for Costner. Considered to be one of the epics on the Sioux tribes of the Red Indians.

The movie begins at a hospital. It’s the period of the American Civil war. We see Lieutenant John .J. Dunbar. His leg has to be amputated, since it’s badly injured. But, Dunbar looks at the other soldiers wriggling in pain after their amputation, and he runs out, steals a horse and heads straight to the field where the gun battle is on, trying to commit suicide by getting trapped among the gunshots.

Seeing Dunbar fearlessly heading towards the enemies, the union troops are rejuvenated, and they start attacking the confederates, ultimately winning the battle. Dunbar is awarded the horse and is named as a hero. He is then offered the choice of his favorite posting, by the union General.

Dunbar asks to be posted at the western frontier. The reason – he wants to visit and feel the frontier which will lose its nativity – the army is planning to launch an attack on the Indians. He goes to a Fort – Fort Hays – to report to the major about his posting, and the drunk major shoots himself after assigning orders to Dunbar. Dunbar leaves the fort with a wagon driver named Timmons, carrying fresh supplies of food and ammunitions to his assigned post. He has to report to one Captain Cargill at Fort Sedgwick which is in the western frontier.

Dunbar finds the Fort Sedgwick deserted. He asks Timmons to leave and starts to set up his own camp. He sees a wolf which he names as ‘Two Socks’, because of the color of its legs. Timmons gets caught and scalped to death by the Pawnee Indians in the frontier, and Dunbar, unaware of the impending danger, starts to explore his surroundings. Once, while bathing in a nearby pool, Dunbar sees a Sioux Indian – the leader of the Sioux tribe named Kicking Bird approach his camp. After seeing Dunbar running towards him from the pool naked, the Indian is frightened and runs away. Dunbar immediately prepares the camp to face the battle – he sets up guns and prepares hideouts.

The Indians try to steal Dunbar’s horse but in vein. After seeing all these ‘not so rosy’ incidents, Dunbar decides to visit the Sioux village to improve relationships. While Dunbar nears the village, he encounters ‘Stands with a fist’, an English girl who’s been brought up in the village by Kicking Bird and his wife. She tries to cut her hands and legs in order to follow a traditional custom of mourning for her dead husband, but faints since she has lost blood. Dunbar brings her to the village. The villagers are frightened by his arrival, and Dunbar leaves.

The leaders of the village hold a meeting to discuss about Dunbar and decide that he must be observed. The next day, Kicking Bird goes to Dunbar’s camp, and Dunbar greets the convoy with coffee. Eventually both the parties become friends, but there is one thing which stands as a barricade – the language barrier. Since ‘Stands with a fist’ was born English, Kicking Bird assigns her to translate whatever Dunbar says, and she reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, Dunbar helps the village when he tells them about a huge herd of Buffalos. The Sioux hunt the herd along with Dunbar, and Dunbar kills many buffalos with his gun, and this act of Dunbar makes him a hero among the tribes. The minute difference of Dunbar reluctantly becoming a hero among his people in the war, and now Dunbar happily becoming a hero among the Sioux is captured well in the movie.

Dunbar becomes an inseparable part of the Sioux from then on, and he slowly learns the language too, with the help of Stands with a fist. They both fall in love gradually, and Kicking Bird gives her permission to come out of her mourning and to marry Dunbar.

While Dunbar one day plays with ‘Two Socks’, the wolf, the Sioux see this and name him as ‘Dances with Wolves’.

While the majority of men from the Sioux camp go for a war with the Pawnee Indians, Kicking Bird makes Dunbar stay in the village as a protection for the women and children. One day, while a Pawnee army comes to attack the camp, Dunbar facilitates killing the army with the help of his buried guns at his fort. While Kicking Bird returns, he learns everything, and the marriage of Dunbar with ‘Stands with a fist’ happens.

While Dunbar finally reveals to Kicking Bird that the white men will soon start coming like waves to attack and kill the tribes, Kicking Bird plans to move the village to the winter camp. Dunbar, while shifting, realizes that he has left his journal back in the camp, which contains all the information about his tryst with the Sioux. He runs to the port, and finds a battalion of white soldiers. They kill Dunbar’s horse and they torture Dunbar, asking him to tell the location of the Sioux.

While Dunbar is taken to the Fort Hayes, the Sioux attack the convoy and they rescue Dunbar. Dunbar goes to Kicking Bird, telling him that Dunbar’s presence will always attract the white men, and it will be a risk to the Indians. Reluctantly, Kicking Bird agrees to leave Dunbar behind. Dunbar and his wife ‘Stands with a fist’ leave the camp and we learn that after some years, the white men indeed arrived, and the Sioux Indians were killed. The movie ends.

“Dances with Wolves’ is a film which talks about relationships. It shows us a heartening display of how a man who wanted to die became rejuvenated while being with people he didn’t even know about. The story of John Dunbar. It won seven academy awards including best film, best director and best screenplay.

This is the highest grossing Western of all time, with a domestic take of $184 million in the US. It achieved this figure without ever reaching #1 on the box-office charts. Also, this is the first western to win a best picture Oscar after Cimarron (1931) – about 50 years between these two movies. – (thanks IMDB)

See Dances with Wolves and get a hold of the realistic display of the treatment of the native tribes of America, during the 1860s.

See the trailer here.


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