Archive for the ‘World Cinema’ Category

In the Mood for love –The thrill of the chaste   Leave a comment

In the Mood for love is so exquisite that I just can’t get it out of head, there’s so much of beauty which is so simply stated, and sure is the most elegant romantic movies that I’ve ever seen. Not to forget, the movie which made smoking look so sexy!

Criterion had come up with the three reasons to watch this masterpiece and they were,

  1. Mr Chow and Mrs Chan
  2. Moving Still Images
  3. The thrill of the chaste

Surprisingly i’d pick, the thrill of the chaste, as in the platonic filtration tagged with silence, because it is so damn hard to not be verbal and articulate with emotions, which I again surprisingly find it to be so sensible!!

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This was my third viewing and in the end was kicking myself for watching it because “Many little things, seemingly forgotten, occasionally jumped out of my memory. They were like meteors in the summer, dying out instantaneously”.

References:

Three Reasons: In the Mood for Love

Unforgettable monologues – Stalker – True Devotion!   Leave a comment

Stalker was the movie which literally opened the floodgates onto allegories of the past also facilitated to view the reflections of my own unfathomable depths of being. Also it heightened the innate demand for transparency, clarity. Stalker is perhaps one of the simplest science fiction movie ever made, the goal is to find the answers in a place called “The Zone”, a mysterious place where a person’s deepest wishes will come true.

And moreover I adore the movies which explain themselves, the paradox too; i.e. its ordinal/cipher which encapsulates the film entirety, essence.

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One such gem is the below monologue:

“You know, my mother was against it. You’ve probably noticed already that he’s not of this world. All our neighborhood laughed at him. He was such a bungler, he looked so pitiful. My mother used to say: “He’s a stalker, he’s doomed, he’s an eternal prisoner! Don’t you know what kind of children the stalkers have?” And I… I didn’t even argue with her. I knew it all myself, that he was doomed, that he was an eternal prisoner, and about the children. Only what could I do? I was sure, I would be happy with him. Of course, I knew I’d have a lot of sorrow, too. But it’s better to have a bitter happiness than… a gray, dull life. Perhaps, I thought it all up later. But then he approached me and said: “Come with me.” And I did, and never regretted it. Never. We had a lot of sorrow, a lot of fear, and a lot of shame. But I never regretted it, and I never envied anyone. It’s just our fate, our life, that’s how we are. And if we haven’t had our misfortunes, we wouldn’t have been better off. It would have been worse. Because in that case, there wouldn’t have been any happiness. And there wouldn’t have been any hope.”

.. and it was Stalkers wife’s capacity to love, her true devotion that mattered amidst myriad of  hypocritical/tangled impulses of scientist, author.

.. and the best is from Tarkovsky himself  “In the end, everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love.”

La grande bellezza – Blah Blah Blah!   Leave a comment

La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty)
Director – Paolo Sorrentino
Starring  – Toni Servillo , Carlo Verdone , Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso
Running time – 142 minutes
Country – Italy

Chronological events:

Opening quote:
To travel is very useful, it makes the imagination work, the rest is just delusion and pain. Our journey is entirely imaginary, which is its strength.
–         Made me to anticipate that the movie was something that would be in conjunction with travel, finding the meaning, beauty all that blah, but it just wallows around Rome describing its pretentious-pseudo-artsy-affluence.

Protagonist’s Intro:
To this question, as kids, my friends always gave the same answer: “Pussy”. Whereas I answered “The smell of old people’s houses”. The question was “What do you really like the most in life?” I was destined for sensibility. I was destined to become a writer. I was destined to become Jep Gambardella.
–          ­sounded like Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) was an intellectual, romantic, serious kinda guy but infact he turns out to be a socialite- king of the high life who, inspite being a misogynist, misanthrope, throws parties , attends confusing art events and sleeps with several women!!

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Growing Awareness:
The most important thing l discovered a few days after turning 65 is that l can’t waste any more time doing things l don’t want to do.
–          Jep Gambardella who once wrote a cult novel in his twenties, suddenly becomes aware that he is wasting his time with nude women!?!?

Oh the penultimate realization!
This is how it always ends. With death. But first there was life, hidden beneath the blah, blah, blah… It’s all settled beneath the chitter chatter and the noise, silence and sentiment, emotion and fear. The haggard, inconstant flashes of beauty. And then the wretched squalor and miserable humanity. All buried under the cover of the embarrassment of being in the world, blah, blah, blah… Beyond there is what lies beyond. And I don’t deal with what lies beyond. Therefore… let this novel begin. After all… it’s just a trick. Yes, it’s just a trick.
–          Probably the sanest portion of all, that which approximately reflected what is put on view.

Footnote:
Toni Servillo with his impeccable elegance is phenomenal; just loved his oh-iam-so-bored attitude which is filled with ego crushing panache, esp when he takes a dig at Stefania.

Relating La grande bellezza on par with Fellini’s 8 ½ is just too gross! Fellini’s ideologies, philosophy were more subterranean, meaningful. Whereas, Sorrentino’s are bland, puffed-up with opulent exaggeration. The movie is nothing but a portrayal of self-indulgent masturbation which is extremely slow to arrive to its intended orgasm.

References:
IMDB – The Great Beauty (2013) – Quotes
The Great Beauty –  Wikipedia

Scenes from a marriage – Know thyself   Leave a comment

Scener ur ett äktenskap (Scenes from a marriage)
Country: Sweden
Writer/Director: Ingmar Bergman
Starring: Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Bibi Anderson, Jan Malmsjö
Run time: 167 mins

The cinema is not a craft. It is an art. It does not mean team-work. One is always alone; on the set as before the blank page. And for Bergman, to be alone means to ask questions. And to make films means to answer them. Nothing could be more classically romantic.” – Jean-Luc Godard

How would you describe Scenes from a marriage in a few words? I really dunno where to begin with, because I’ve been completely lost in conversation with myself, even when I take the bus; pay attention to Chennai express’s OST, or at work – preparing, deriving a work-load profile for EDI architecture or when speaking with someone, about football, Ashes, or the mundane things, the elegant yet brutal observations of the movie are jogging at the back of head and just simply cannot stop it enveloping, the need for greater clarity.

Why?!?!?
The movie imposes a stark simplicity that sheds light on fundamental, abysmal humane countenance, plus there are no grappling metaphysical questions, no thematic evaluations on god, religion, it’s just a walk-through on basic human conundrum of relationships, on mysterious things which we customarily acquiesce.

According to Bergman himself, Scenes from a Marriage deals with: “the absolute fact that the bourgeois ideal of security corrupts people’s emotional lives, undermines them, and frightens them and allows themselves to be brave, cowardly, happy, sad, angry, loving, confused, uncertain, satisfied, cunning, unpleasant, childish, mean, unfathomable, magnificent, petty, physically affectionate, heartless, stupid, wretched, helpless: in a nutshell – typical human beings”.

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Originally made as a TV series, response to Scenes from a Marriage was really huge. Accordingly, it generated a lot of interest, this allowed public to talk about their experiences openly and divorces increased, such was its impact! And Bergman was forced to go ex-directory to avoid telephone calls from strangers wanting to discuss their marriage with him and the marriage guidance service saw a huge increase in its number of clients. :)

The movie is divided into six different episodes or ‘scenes’ as it is put, a brutally honest evolutionarily portrayal of marriage between its main protagonists; Johan (Erland Josephson) and Marianne (Liv Ullmann).
1) Innocence and Panic
2) The Art of Sweeping things under the Rug
3) Paula
4) The Vale of Tears
5) The Illiterates
6) In the Middle of the Night in a Dark House Somewhere in the World

Innocence and Panic
A magazine reporter interviews Johan and Marianne, asks questions and invigorates them to describe themselves and their 10 years of conjugal bliss, to which Johan illustrates himself fully on glowing terms, where as, Marianne (her eyes, blue as an old folk song, are lit up from within) compassionately expresses her outlook towards life. Johan is 42 and is an associate professor at the Institute of Psycho-technology and Marianne 35, works as a marriage counselor. They talk about how they met, how they fell in love and how they eventually got married. They both are seen as an ideal couple, have two wonderful daughters, have good jobs, never had material worries, and they are in good terms with friends, relations on both sides. Although they have differences, just like other people, they agree on all the key issues.

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, they have invited another couple, Katarina (Bibi Anderson) and Peter (Jan Malmsjö) for dinner, who envy them and jeeringly describe that they would like to stick a pin into their beautiful balloon. Consequently, they humiliate each other and seek guidance from Marianne to file their divorce. Here, Bibi Anderson is brilliantly amazing, after Persona, I had never witnessed such an intense performance and the scene that is by far, one of the most appalling exchange of words that I have ever come across.

In regard with marriage, Marianne and Johan mull over the possibility, probability for a couple to be partners for life. Johan pronounces marriage should be of renewable 5 year contract and they both conclude that Katarina and Peter go through hell because they don’t communicate and they have to translate everything they mean into a common language.

Marianne to Johan: “Sometimes it’s as if the couples are talking on bad telephone lines. Sometimes it’s like listening to two pre-programmed tape recorders and sometimes it’s the utter silence of outer space. I don’t know which is the worst. I don’t know…”

The Art of Sweeping things under the Rug
Marianne and Johan equally loathe their obligation of having Sunday dinner with their parents, they call it absurd because their life is mapped out and they think every last second is accounted for and they fall short in process of subjugating their respective mothers due to societal pressure.

Meanwhile back at work, Johan flirts with his college friend who openly criticizes his poetry, calling it mediocre, insipid, neat, puerile, because she and her friends envied, believed that he was destined for greatness. Johan is offended by her remarks and stops flirting.

Whereas, Marianne meets her client: A housewife who is longing for a divorce after more than 20 years of marriage. The conversation is of low-tone yet mind-bogglingly cold!! Some excerpts:

Marianne: Why do you want a divorce?
Housewife: It’s a loveless marriage.
Marianne: Is that your reason?
Housewife: Yes.
Marianne: Has it always been like this?
Housewife: Yes, for the full 20 years.
Marianne: But now you want to break away.
Housewife: Yes. My husband is a responsible man. He’s kind and conscientious. He’s been an excellent father. We’ve never quarreled. We have a nice apartment and a house in the country. We’re both fond of music. But there’s no love between us, there never has been.
Marianne: Forgive me for asking, but have you met someone?
Housewife: No, I haven’t.
Marianne: What about your husband?
Housewife: Not as far as I know.
Housewife: He keeps asking me what is wrong with our marriage. I tell him I can’t go on in a relationship that lacks love. Then he asks what this love is supposed to consist of. But I can’t describe something that doesn’t exist.
Marianne: Have you been on good terms with your children?
Housewife:  I’ve never loved my children. I know that now… I used to think I did. People do. But I know now that I never loved them. I know just what you’re thinking: She’s been overindulged and has no sense of humor. She has all she could ever want, but still she moans about love. There are other qualities like friendship, loyalty, security… Something like that, yes.
Housewife: Let me tell you something. I have a mental image of myself, which doesn’t correspond to reality.
Marianne: Forgive a personal question… Isn’t it so that love…
Housewife: I have the capacity to love. But it’s all been… bottled up. The life I’ve led has stifled my potential. The time has come to change that. The first step is divorce. My husband and I block each other in some deadly way.
Marianne: That sounds frightening.
Housewife: It is frightening.
Housewife: Something peculiar is happening. My senses, sight, hearing, touch are starting to fail me. This table, for instance, I can see it and touch it… But the sensation is diminished and dry. Do you understand?
Marianne: I think I do.
Housewife: It’s the same with everything – music, scents, faces and voices. Everything seems… puny, grey and undignified.

Pfft! Encompassing subtle movements and by being ‘brutally honest’, It felt so liberated just to watch the up-close long-take facial close-ups! It was such a treat!!

Back at home, Marianne and Johan talk about their sex life and how married people lose interest in each other, apparently owing to the life which is full of evasions. Marianne expresses her inability to enjoy it as much as she was used to and also asks Johan to find a mistress. Johan shoots back at her saying that she is making things complicated because he believes sex is pretty elementary stuff and has become a sore spot. Marianne too, asserts her stance by indicating that he attacks her for not trying and later for making the effort. They hurt each other to no end and the barbs still remain even when they go to bed. Finally, they comfort each other by accepting their own disagreements.

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Marianne: You’ve been unbelievably tactless.
Johan: I apologize.
Marianne: Don’t I give you enough affection?
Johan: Affection takes time.
Marianne: Then you don’t get enough.
Johan: We don’t, or give enough either.
Marianne: That’s why I wanted us to go away this summer.
Johan: Affection shouldn’t be kept for vacations.
Marianne: You’re nice, even if you are a moron.
Johan: Lucky I’m married to you.
Marianne: You’re mediocre, but you have your moments of greatness.
Johan: At our age, thousands of brain cells burn out every day. Never to be replaced…
Marianne: You must lose a million!
Johan: You’re awfully sweet anyway, even if you do scold and fuss.

This piece is just brilliantly filmed; the Stoic tone in which it is perceived and propagated to the audience, both in natural and human form is simply outstanding!!

Paula
Marianne exuberantly prepares dinner for exhausted Johan who has just arrived from work, she is apologetic for being a beast on the phone and ponders over on why do they grudge themselves over the good things in life?

Johan drops a bomb and tells her that he’s gone fallen in love with an interpreter named: Paula, whom he met her at a conference. Furthermore, he explains that he does not have any idea what it will lead to and he’s bewildered. However, on some level he’s happy and he wants to make a clean break, intends to accompany her to Paris, stay away for at least seven or eight months.

Marianne is dumbstruck when Johan says he was planning to leave since four years! The reason that he states is that he was fed up with all the caring about what they weren’t expected to do and the people they had to accommodate, whichever way he turned, it only impaired him.

Marianne begs him not to leave and asks him to provide a chance, believes that they can save their marriage by making a fresh start. She asks about Paula and volunteers herself to meet and talk with her; because she believes Paula can understand her ordeal. Johan pulls his wallet, shows her photo and explains to her that she is just 23, and further conveys that she’s been engaged twice , hasn’t been lucky in love. She has had lots of affairs due to which he suffers from retrospective jealousy, detests her frankness because she insists on giving him the details of her erotic past.

Johan: She has no illusions and she has no great hopes for the two of us. She knows I’ll go back to you. It all sounds like a hackneyed old melodrama.
Marianne: Are you compatible in bed?
Johan: Yes, we are, actually. At first it was all wrong. I wasn’t used to it – being with other women, I mean.
Johan: We’ve spoiled each other, you and I, living in a bubble of our own. Everything’s gone like clockwork. The lack of oxygen smothered us.
Marianne: And Paula will revive you?
Johan: I have little self-awareness. I know little of reality, regardless of all the books I’ve read, but this may be an opportunity for you and I to really live.
Marianne: Has Paula filled your head with rubbish like that?
Johan: Just how naive can you get? We can do without your taunts.
Marianne: Forgive me.
Johan: I’m trying… I’m trying to be honest and it’s not easy! We’ve never talked like this before. Is it any wonder we’re naive? What else can we expect?
Marianne: You’re in a tight spot.

Next Day, Marianne makes her last effort to bring back Johan by expressing that she would throw out stale old routines, pledges that he will never hear her blame him. At the same time, expresses her anguish for shutting her out without any hope. Johan unreservedly leaves Marianne for Paula. Then, Marianne immediately phones Fredrik/Birgit(common friends) so that they both can convince Johan but she is extremely horrified when she learns that they knew about the affair beforehand.

The Vale of Tears
Johan has been offered a chair at Cleveland University (US) and visits Marianne to discuss about their divorce. In reality think about each other the entire time wondering if they are lonely or afraid. At dinner, Johan has got his eyes fixated on Marianne who’s looking voluptuous; he wants to have sex but Marianne wants him to take an interest in her soul, pay heed to sincere reflections.

Marianne thinks she is a masochist; she can’t bear the experience of Johan making love to her because she feels that it would leave her devastated. Later, she straightforwardly orders him to leave her house if he persists.

Johan clams himself and asks her to read to him about the stuff that she has jotted down, Her Monologue:

I turned and looked at the photo of my class at school, taken when I was 10. I seemed to detect something that had eluded me previously. To my surprise, I must admit, I don’t know who I am. Not at all… I’ve always done as I was told. As far as I can remember, I’ve been obedient, well-adjusted, almost meek. I did assert myself once or twice as a girl, but mother punished all such lapses from convention with exemplary severity.

My entire upbringing was aimed at making me agreeable. I was ugly and graceless. A fact I was constantly reminded of. But if I kept my thoughts to myself and was ingratiating, my behavior yielded rewards. The real deception began at puberty. My every thought revolved around sex. But this I never told my parents or anyone at all, for that matter.

Being deceitful and secretive became second nature to me. My father wanted me to become a lawyer like himself. I said I wanted to be an actress, or do something else within the theatrical world, but they laughed at me. Since then I go on pretending. A sham in my relations to others. To men. The same sham – a desperate attempt to please. I’ve never considered what I want without hurting each other.”

Just WOW! The monologue’s constructed on a Montage of still images of baby-to-adolescent Marianne, which perhaps supersedes her ungraspable emotional essence.

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The Illiterates
Marianne and Johan are living apart for ages but their feelings of guilt linger on. They both discuss about divorce at Johan’s office, initially Johan wants to sign the papers without reading but after unexpected making of love, he wants to discuss the fundamentals of it, so as to feel that he isn’t being cheated. Marianne flares up and explains him that it is pointless to discuss anything because she wants to break, as it has been very painful and has taken a long time to forget him; she wants to be free so that she can live her own life.

However, Johan is in on a postmortem mood, explains to her that he is going down both financially, emotionally and explains her that he found himself as nothing but a doormat, grudgingly declares good behavior used to earn him a lay, bad behavior or criticism went severely punished.

Marianne, in-turn shouts at him for finding herself hedged in by all the endless and griping demands from him, his mother and society! And she hates him for whining about conspiracies, defends that she is the only one who fights and faces reality by overcoming difficulties. Somehow, Marianne fathoms Johan’s tribulations, his unwillingness for a divorce; later Johan honestly admits that he is still bound to Marianne in a deeper way than he knew.

In the process of a divorce Marianne had often warned wives against spending time alone with their husbands and finds it amusing that she herself is doing the same, which makes Johan mad and they both engage in a physical duel.

All in all, this quote from Johan pretty much sums the percipient character analysis of the episodeWe’re emotional illiterates. We’ve been taught about anatomy and farming methods in Africa. We’ve learned mathematical formulas by heart. But we haven’t been taught a thing about our souls. We’re tremendously ignorant about what makes people tick”.

In the Middle of the Night in a Dark House Somewhere in the World
Marianne and Johan are married to new spouses; they meet secretly and are having an affair with each other for more than 2 years. On their 20th Anniversary they plan for an outing and are amazingly compassionate, cheerful for each other. With a certain sense of humility, Johan has accepted his true dimensions and has stopped being on the defensive, whereas, Marianne acquiescently confesses that she truly enjoys her sex life with her new partner and is obsessed with the new sensation. However, she concludes that the current marriage is purely a sexual affair and nothing else.

Johan’s expression change, exasperatingly states that Marianne should write a novel for women’s libbers. He continues to explain about the awareness that they’ve gained. Sarcastically expressing: One faces up to his insignificance, the other, to her greatness.

Johan: Here we are, trashing our spouses. They’re in this room with us. It’s mental group sex to the max. It’s like a textbook on life. It’s fabulous, but I can’t bear it.
Marianne: I see, but I don’t find it terrible.
Johan: I can’t abide this cold light directed on my every endeavor. How I battle with futility.
Johan: I try to cheer myself up thinking that life is what you make of it, but those are empty words. I want something to long for.
Marianne: I don’t feel the same way.
Johan: I realize that.
Marianne: I persevere. I enjoy myself. I rely on common sense and my gut feeling. They work together. I’m content with my direction. Time has given me a third partner: Experience.

They comfort each other and go to bed; In the Dead of Night Marianne awakes from a terrible nightmare.

Marianne: Sometimes it grieves me that I have never loved anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever been loved either. It really distresses me.
Johan: Now you’re being histrionic. I know what I feel. I love you in my selfish way and I think you love me, in your fussy, pestering way. We love each other like people do here on earth, but you’re so demanding.
Marianne: Yes, I am.
Johan: It’s as simple as this: Here I am in a dark house somewhere in the world, with my arms around you and you are here in my arms. I lack empathy for my fellow human beings. I’m low on imagination, I suppose. I don’t know what my love looks like and I can’t describe it. Most of the time I don’t feel it.
Marianne: You think I love you too?
Johan: Yes, I do. If we harp on, love will vanish.

A fitting end to the glorious chronicle which accentuates the positive, fills their ephemeral hearts with a sense of hope which connects their souls at a very, very basic level.

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Whether you have been married or not (in this case which i am not), Scenes from a Marriage feels intriguing, uncompromising and that’s because its concerns are timeless. You never think of these things consciously but when you delve on the relationship between the representation and the reality, you bask in sunlight and the experience itself is gratifying.

Scenes from a Marriage is unexampled, it’s not simply a film with a cliched plot, it’s a film with an overwhelming experience in human emotion. With all perversions, the taste, the gestures, the film is completely devoid of nudity and that’s something hard to achieve in modern cinema. It only has a few platonic kisses but the conversations creates intensified ripples of awareness. Bergman says “It took two and a half months to write these scenes; it took a whole adult life to live.” And I sincerely want to recommend this movie to all of my married friends not just to fashion themselves with articulated upholstery but save for a participation in uplifting their recesses of heart in a direction that is beyond conventional.

References:
Scenes from a Marriage – ingmarbergman.se
Marriage as Cinematic Movement, or Loving the Face in Close-Up: Scenes From a Marriage
Social Perspective in Scenes from a Marriage’
Criterion Essays – Scenes from a Marriage
The Existential Vacuum in Bergman’s “Scenes from a. Marriage”.
Conversational strategy and metastrategy in a pragmatic theory: The example of Scenes from a Marriage

To the wonder – “Quadrospazzed” !   Leave a comment

Newborn. I open my eyes. I melt. Into the eternal night. A spark. You got me out of the darkness. You gathered me up from earth. You’ve brought me back to life.

Coming straight out, the intro sums it up, To the wonder is a baffling-puzzling-astonishing -overwhelming film directed by Terrence Malick, which stars Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem  and which boldly, lyrically explores the complexities of love in all its forms.  A journey into world that is somehow less intricate than Tree of life, nevertheless pure, pristine.

wonder

With ethereal, ephemeral hearts..
With untamed, unfilled avalanches..
devouring insatiable dreams,
rearing magnanimous anomalies,
such is the tone of love…
only to realize..
a notion that there is,
an endearing spirit that is eternal;
fluttering…, pervading.., breathing..
into the wonder!

References:
http://www.magpictures.com/tothewonder/

The Man Who Planted Trees – Quantifying Happiness   Leave a comment

L’homme qui plantait des arbres (The Man Who Planted Trees)
Directed by: Frederic Back
Country: Canada
Runtime: 30 minutes
Voice: Christopher Plummer, Philippe Noiret

For a human character to reveal truly exceptional qualities, one must have the good fortune to be able to observe its performance over many years. If this performance is devoid of all egoism, if its guiding motive is unparalleled generosity, if it is absolutely certain that there is no thought of recompense and that, in addition, it has left its visible mark upon the earth, then there can be no mistake.

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 …and indeed there is no mistake when you talk about Elzeard Bouffier – A fictional character of L’homme qui plantait des arbres(The Man Who Planted Trees); an animated film of a book by Jean Giono , which tells the story of a shepherd (Elzeard Bouffier) who reforests a barren part of France. It won an Academy Award for best animated short film in 1987. Attached with Jean Giono’s poetical affluence and with the vibrant images of Frederic Back, the short movie comes together in constructing a deep sense of reverence for the spirit of great beauty, hope that it naturally evokes. Strangely, Shreya Ghoshal’s tweet (Weren’t we given evidences that we are not even the size of a speck in the whole of the universe. Still we carry boulders of arrogance within us!! ) reminded me of this long lost and forgotten masterpiece.

In parallel with Elzeard Bouffier Buddha-like persona, the book’s author Jean Giono says that “I wrote this story to make people love trees, or more precisely to make people love planting trees. Of all my stories it is one of the ones of which I am most proud. It has never earned me a penny and for that reason it has accomplished the very purpose for which it was written.” And the film unequivocally convinces that however bad life/world may seem, there is always something one can do, succeed, inspire and thus proudly conveying humanity is admirable and at the same time marvel at  greatness of Human spirit, its tenacity of benevolence.

References:
The Man who planted Trees – pdf
L’homme qui plantait des arbres (The Man Who Planted Trees)
Fredreic Back – Filmography

Through a Glass Darkly – Dissecting “Conquered certainty”   Leave a comment

Såsom i en spegel – (Through a Glass Darkly)
Written and Directed by: Ingmar Bergman
Cinematography:  Sven Nykvist
Country: Sweden
Runtime: 89 minutes
Starring: Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Max von Sydow, Lars Passgard

We draw a magic circle around ourselves to shut out everything that doesn’t fit our secret games. Each time life breaks through the circle, the games become puny and ridiculous, so we draw a new circle and build new defenses.”

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Through a Glass Darkly – is the 23rd film directed by Ingmar Bergman which revolves around a small dysfunctional family on a remote island of Sweden; intensely involving, monumental performances from Harriet Andersson, Max von Sydow, Gunnar Bjornstrand and Lars Passgard, It won Bergman the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

The film expressively focuses/highlights on human alienation and paradoxically on exploration of the purpose of human existence i.e. to find meaning in an apparently meaningless existence. With a total cast of 4 people, “Through a Glass Darkly has a serious element of escapism and gross unveracity about it. A sort of desperate desire for security. An attempt to present a solution. A sort of weariness; always arriving at the question and never getting an answer. Like a circus performer who makes all his preparations for a somersault; and then, instead of making his death-leap, simply, with an ironical bow, climbs down”. Thus, the film is generally referred as “chamber film” (Chamber cinema encloses space and time, permitting the director to focus on mise-en-scène and to pay careful attention to metaphoric detail and visual rhythm).

The film describes day in the life of a dysfunctional family consisting of four people:

  • Karin (Harriet Andersson) – A central figure in the film who suffers from Schizophrenia and finds it hard to distinguish what is real from what is unreal.
  • Karin’s Father – David (Gunnar Bjornstrand) – Ostensibly Cold, self-alienated, repugnant author who records course of his daughter’s decent into madness.
  • Karin’s younger brother – Minus (Lars Passgard), – troubled/confused Adolescent who is exposed to sexuality in an unhealthy way.
  • Karin’s husband – Martin (Max von Sydow) – A Devoted husband and a helpless doctor who mutely witnesses Karin’s inexplicable emotions.

Karin’s illness is the main catalyst and it is the chief source which molds the characteristics of those who are associated with her. Coupled with acute sense of hearing, delusions, she tries it hard to make sense of her surroundings because she feels; no one attempts to connect to her soul. However she is aware of her illness and explicitly declares : It’s so horrible to see your own confusion and understand it.  Without any choice, she succumbs to dark forces, inadvertently refusing life without God, refusing life with God. Thus, constructing a platform for hope, reprieve, where Minus and David reconcile with each other though a following exchange…

Minus: Reality… cracked, and I fell out. It’s like in dreams… Anything can happen. Anything!
David: I know.
Minus: I can’t live in this new world.
David: Yes, you can. But you have to have something to hold on to.
Minus: What would that be – a god? Give me a proof of God! You can’t.
David: Yes, I can. But you have to listen carefully.
Minus: Yes… I need to listen.
David: I can only give you an indication of my own hope. It’s knowing that love exists for real in the human world.
Minus: A special kind of love, I suppose?
David: All kinds, Minus. The highest and the lowest, the most ridiculous and the most sublime. All kinds.
Minus: The longing for love?
David: Longing and denial. Doubt and faith.
Minus: So love is the proof?
David: I don’t know whether love is proof of God’s existence, or if love is God.
Minus: For you, love and God are the same?
David: I rest my emptiness and dirty hopelessness in that thought.
Minus: Tell me more, Dad!
David: Suddenly the emptiness turns into abundance – and hopelessness into life. It’s like a reprieve, Minus……from a sentence of death.
Minus: Dad… if it is as you say – then Karin is surrounded by God, since we love her. Could that help her?
David: I believe so.

1

Furthermore, Bergman reveals that “Through a Glass Darkly was a desperate attempt to present a simple philosophy: God is love and love is God. A person surrounded by love is also surrounded by God. That is what I, with the assistance of Vilgot Sjöman, named ‘conquered certainty.’ In a weird way, the film floats a couple of inches above the ground, The terrible thing about the film is that it offers a horrendously revealing portrait of the creator and the condition he was in at the start of the film, both as a man and as an artist. A book would have been much less revealing in this case, since words can be more nebulous than pictures

In more ways, Through a glass darkly is an absolute masterpiece. Perfect with its captivating cinematography, it is a film of great purity that awakens awe, reverence and heightens the ability to act, feel, understand, perceive. Blending with infinite admiration, the vastness and the great impressiveness that it possesses, the film inordinately lingers on palpable truth which it echoes utmost i.e. love is all that matters.

References:
Ingmar Bergman’s “Through A Glass Darkly” (1961) – Passion for the Spirituality of Living
Crises of the self: An examination of alienation in Ingmar Bergman’s film trilogy
Ingmar Bergman Biography – Baseline’s Encyclopedia of Film
Bergmanorama- Through A Glass Darkly.

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