Thursday, 13 November, 2008

10 Films To See Before You Die (Part une)

I am not a movie critic, nor am I an expert. Still, I have compiled a list of 10 movies you must see before you die for the sheer reason that if you can listen to Roger Ebert, you can listen to me too :) So read, enjoy, and if you ever get your paws on these 10 films, do me a favour, and WATCH THEM!

1. À bout de souffle:
Directed by: Jean Luc-Godard
Language: French
Released: 1960

Jean Luc-Godard's best work to date (according to me), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo as the young crook Michel and Jean Seberg as Patricia, the American reporter. The story unfolds mainly in the streets of Paris, though most of the important sequences are shot in Patricia's bedroom.

This film blew my mind away, with it's unstructured jazz feel, the jump cuts, all the 'easter eggs' of sorts which I could spot in the movie, the poignant acting, the deliciously good looking Jean-Paul Belmondo (seriously...when he runs his thumb over his lips à la Humphrey Bogart, I felt like jumping him) and for Michel's last words to Patricia before he dies: "C'est vraiment dégueulasse", which is a source of confusion even today, since no one has been able to translate what Michel really meant. Watch this movie, even if you have to watch it without English sub-titles!

2. Schindler's List:
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Language: English
Released: 1993

Those who know me, know my obsession with Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, Auschwitz and the Holocaust. My dad had first brought the movie's VCD a long time ago, and my sister and I were forbidden from viewing the film due to it's graphic nature and some sexual content. He also forbade us from watching the movie because after he saw it, he was unable to sleep at night.

I can honestly say, the same thing happened with me too, after watching it. Spielberg has done an excellent job in portraying Nazi Germany, and how it was living hell for the Jews there. How one man, Oskar Schindler, initially out of greed, saved the lives of so many Jews. I cried, and I cried, and I cried throughout the movie. The film left me with such a heavy heart, because after all, it was a movie. What would have happened in real life would have been far, far worse. I think everyone should watch this film out of respect for all those who died during the Holocaust, for the people who survived it, and for making sure that such acts of immense violence not repeat itself.

3. Dumbo:
Directed by: Ben Sharpsteen
Language: English
Released: 1941

Like every other child, my growing up years were filled with hours and hours of cartoon viewing. I've seen every Disney movie there is, but none of them have had such a profound impact on me than what Dumbo has. Dumbo is a short story about an elephant who is different. He is very big ears, because of which he becomes the subject of ridicule from almost everyone. There is only one person who loves him unconditionally, and that is his mother. But due to some turn of events, he is separated from her, and then the story goes on to how he re-unites with his mother with the help of his buddy, Timothy the mouse.

This film feels so close to me, cause I've always felt like an outcast myself. The bond shown between Dumbo and his mother is done so well, you can't help but feel for Dumbo's plight. But the best part of the movie is the ending, where Dumbo overcomes everything and becomes a big star in the "circus industry" and re-unites with his mother. See the film, just for the sheer beauty of it. And see it with your mother. There won't be a dry eye in the house, I promise you!

4. Life is Beautiful:
Directed by: Roberto Benigni
Language: Italian
Released: 1997

Here's another Holocaust story, which I saw for the first time in 2007. This one stars Roberto Begnini as Guido, a Jewish Italian, who is taken into a concentration camp with his son, Joshua, portrayed brilliantly by Giorgio Cantarini. His wife, even though she is not Jew, goes to the concentration camp. Joshua is unaware of where they were going and why they were leaving, not understanding the gravity of the situation. So Guido turns the whole situation into a game, turning the concentration camp into a playground, where the person who get 1,000 points wins a tank.

This film has been made so well, and Benigni has made a twist in the way how the world percieves the Holocaust. Even till the end, Guido doesn't let Joshua know of how much their lives are in danger. Perhaps the best scene in the film is when Joshua comes out of the sweatbox, where his father had told him to hide, and comes face-to-face with an American tank. So in essence, Guido had not lied to him. This film is a must-watch, for it simply says that no matter how bad or how bleak things are, life is beautiful...La vita è bella!

5. Pita, Putra aur Mahayudh:
Directed by: Anand Patwardhan
Language: Hindi/English
Released: 1995

During college, I've had the privelege of watching three documentaries by Anand Patwardhan: Ram ke Naam (In the Name of God), Jung Aur Aman (War and Peace) and Pita, Putra aur Mahayudh (Father, Son and Holy War). From these, I've been moved the most from the third one. It is a two-hour long documentary, divided in two parts, which basically talks about the fact that in this "politically polarized world....the minorities get marginalized". It shows what people think are the ideals of "manhood". How in all the various wars around the world, women suffer.

There is not much I can say about this documentary, except that you must watch it. In fact, you'll be lucky if you get a copy, since this is one of his most controversial documentaries! He must be applauded for his courage, to push forth a subject matter that will be suppressed from all over.

This concludes Part une of 10 Films To See Before You Die. More tomorrow.

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