Friday, November 26, 2010

from probability to actuality : afterthoughts on Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits

When you take away all the embellishments from something, what remains is the essential thing. Stripped off all the filmy candour of photography and editing and narrative, Fellini's Giulietta/Juliet degli spiriti (Juliet of the spirits) is about a woman who desires to be loved and appreciated. Juliet's story, is the story of any woman who seeks love. But, like Fellini's Juliet, such a woman may be living a life that she is in the habit of living - a life of accommodation, rather than one of splendour and celebration. Juliet's story, without the definitions of gender, is the story of choice. 
Juliet chooses to think of herself as happy in spite of all the loneliness that creeps into her marital life. She makes that choice unconsciously since she believes that is how things should be. That is how many of us think of our lives. We think it is un-changeable and acceptance of anything that comes in the way is the only choice left to us. 
In reality, however, the choice is to step out of the fairy-tale like imitation of existence and accept the vulnerability of the world outside the manicured lawns. 

Fellini's Giulietta/Juliet degli spiriti (Juliet of the spirits) tells me to step out and perceive the trees as the life - rooted in the soil of the now, and yet free in the air of the imagination. 

Image : Trees at Radhanagar Beach in Andaman Islands. Photo taken in 2006. Copyright self 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

thoughts about thoughts ... with probability of afterthoughts

a still from Juliet of the Spirits

The experience of watching a film is so overwhelming that i postpone writing about it, until i really have to. Fellini's Giulietta/Juliet degli spiriti (Juliet of the spirits) is one such film. Being Fellini's first feature length film in colour, it inspires a dizziness by the excess of exuberant colours. It has dazed me for so long, that until the opportunity came to write about it in a souvenir, Chitramanjari (published by the Bidhan Nagar Film Society, in charge of the Salt Lake chapter of the prestigious Kolkata Film Festival 2010), I never thought I could articulate my experience of the movie.

What followed was more of a theoretical approach, identifying how 'truth' and/or 'identity of the female protagonist manifest in the film. As I share the following link to the article, I still have a feeling, some more thoughts on it are still to be articulated at the personal level. 

Here's the link to the article:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How absurd can life get!

Surprise! Surprise!

In Sreeman Prithviraj, a Bengali movie set in the British-ruled India, the protagonist decides to go to the Himalayas and become a great sanyasi (but fails to even get past the boundaries of Bengal, but that is another story altogether). That was a path to attain self-realisation. In contemporary times, the onslaught of several life management gurus and their schools give us a variety of choice as per our needs and monetary capacities. I, for one, could never get past the literary gurus of lifestyle. Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha makes me think, once in a while, about my possibility of attaining self (or, for that matter, any) realisation during my lifetime.

The hopelessly rhetorical question as it is, nothing emerges except the blasphemous sigh desiring epiphany. The sighs were so frequent and so filled with hopelessness that, I assume, they had started to interfere with the Great Maker’s planned idea of gradually increasing carbon emissions in earth. The pollutant contributing to the aggravation was my despondent sighs (apologies for that). I understand that the Great Maker (GM) couldn’t possibly let this ruin the plans made ‘n’ years before, but that surely doesn’t give the GM the right to increase the absurdity already evident in my life! The epiphany did happen. But the garb in which it did, made me sulk a couple of more days till I decided to reveal the GM’s conspiracy.

My love for animated movies is nothing new. I actually have a list of my favourite animated movies, besides a bunch of Fellini and his likes. One afternoon, I settled into the couch, with a packet of dry fruits and a Cornetto by my side, to watch one such animation favourite of mine:
The Road to El Dorado.

The story begins with two thugs finding a map to the city of El Dorado, the city of gold. By chance, they reach the island in a boat, after escaping from a furious warrior’s ship. They have a companion now- a horse which jumped overboard to get an apple promised to him (!). They follow the trail and reach the city. They are mistaken as Gods who have come to "shodhon" (a remote English translation would be -to purify) the city. Ultimately they became the saviours of the city and its people from the evil priest of the city and the ruthless bloodthirsty warrior they had fled from. Not much possibility of being flooded by any epiphany I believed. I was ready to enjoy the flowing movements of the characters, the wonderfully-alive music and songs, the bright colours and the eventual victory of the good over evil. I was expecting a blissful afternoon of entertainment. But the GM had other plans.

So this particular movie (which I have watched a couple of times already) popped a scene (which, strangely enough, I didn’t remember), which, suddenly assaulted me with an epiphany regarding the self. The incongruity of the situation didn’t take me by surprise then; I was numbed by the sudden impact.

The scene was nothing out of the ordinary. The two protagonists, friends and fellow gamblers, were cheating on the locals by playing with a loaded dice. Now, that is not really THE most significant scene in the movie and yet, this scene brought with it a realisation that kind-of left a black-hole-impact in my life. While watching an animation film, I realised a grave truth about myself and life (can there be anything more humiliating and outrageous than this???!!!). I saw through the reason why we choose to live the way we do, and, in particular, the one that I chose to live.

In the apparent risks that I undertook, it was nothing more than a calculated indulgence. I grasped a bitter elusive truth about myself: I have never risked enough to be hurt. The dice was always loaded and I put my bet when I knew I will win. All the while, it was seemingly risky, and yet so safe. It is unnerving to know that, what seemed to be a decisive choice was but an excuse to avoid the tough games of life. I wouldn’t really prescribe for myself the way to death by consuming Absynthe addictively. But, even while I was in this slumber of deadening serenity, all I wanted was to be ‘alive’ in the moment, in the “here and the now” (Brave New World, Aldous Huxley). This was the black hole, which sucked all my past into a void.

Since I am an Aquarius, I usually spring back after every such tough phase. And so I am back to doing what I wanted to do always and what I do best: to think and to philosophise. This time around I nullify the charges I put against the GM since he did me one good after all. Gave me an article for my blog. Muchas Gracias. Amen.