Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Cinema: 2

To get back to the “Ingmar Bergman” retrospective.

On three consecutive days, I watch “The Seventh Seal”, “The Silence” and “The Virgin Spring” and feel as if I have been punched in the stomach. I had not seen anything remotely resembling these movies before!

Looking back, what were the factors that created such a deep impression on me? There was, of course, the magical use of light by the two cinematographers: Gunnar Fischer and Sven Nyquist. There was the barely concealed sexual imagery that in a way highlighted the pain and torment the characters were going through. But above all, it was the sheer scope and breadth of the themes that took my breath away, I guess. Themes such as Love, Desire, Religion, Loneliness, and Death.

Another great master the film clubs introduced me to, was Satyajit Ray. But here, being an Indian, it was much easier for me to get into his idiom and look inside the minds of his characters. What fascinated me about Ray’s work was the subtext, this subliminal element that was being played out in the background, when the main action was unfolding in the foreground. This subtext, which could be small, insignificant actions or gestures by the characters themselves, cleverly mixed external sound cues, or even subtle adjustments with the background score, lend the final movie greater depth and visual appeal.

Once I left the cosy, domestic environment of Trivandrum and moved to Bombay, movie-watching had to, necessarily take a back seat. Of course, one still managed to catch the odd screening at NCPA or Nehru Centre, but they were still few and far between.

With the advent of the VCR, one could have the convenience of watching a movie from the comfort of one’s home. But the movies which were available on rent were often the more popular ones, often pirated and need one say, often of very bad quality!

But for a true movie buff, the humble DVD has been a godsend. The visual quality is fantastic and the choice available is mind-boggling. I can walk into my DVD lending library in Chennai and browse the “International” shelves and decide whether to take home a Fellini, Kurosawa, Kieslowski or Almodovar for the week-end.

It is a great feeling.


S.Vijayakumar said...

Dear Rada,

If I recollect correctly, there was also " Wild Strawberries " in that collection of Bergaman classics.

Where they screened at Sri Moolam Club and organaised by Chalachitra film society.

Those were the days...But I am not sure how much I will enjoy them if I were to see them now.

aandthirtyeights said...

The funny thing is, I've watched 8-9 Bergmans, but haven't yet found an Adoor Gopalakrishnan film in the DVD Store here in Hyderabad!

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.