Monday, December 7, 2015

Connecting the invisible dots

Have you ever been to a museum and stared at people staring at a painting? You aren't alone. I used to do that during my younger days. Most of the exhibitions i attended were marked by my curiosity about the people there more than the creations on display. For some reason, i couldn't figure out why so much importance was given to random strokes of colour. Or shapeless objects. I admired the visuals but somehow couldn't comprehend the hidden clues in them. It was beyond me. I was more fascinated by words. Still am. However, as i grew up, i also became attached to cinema. I can't explain how i ended up becoming a cinephile but it has something to do with the marriage of words and visuals. Movies provided me the window to peek into others' lives without having to pay the price. It was a perfect scheme. Over the years, i started reaping newer meanings from what i saw on the big screen. Many a times, the director wants you to notice a lot but you miss them because you are too busy watching the movie. Which is why it takes you a while to understand why certain characters behaved in a certain manner in certain films. For instance, it's only at the end of American Beauty (1999) that you realize Kevin Spacey's character spent about two hours of your life in finally acknowledging that he was seeking beauty, not love. Similarly, Al Pacino's Scarface is never going to be happy because he loves his sister way too much, to the point that he can't tolerate another man in her life. The only problem being he is restricted by incest to ever have her. On a different lane, Robert De Niro's war hero could have shot that deer at the climax of The Deer Hunter (1978) but you can't shoot a harmless creature after what you've been through in Vietnam. Brad Pitt's Tristan attains his adulthood by chopping off a bear's claws in Legend of the Fall (1994). Eventually, his life comes a full circle with a gruesome death by a grizzly bear. During the classic parole scene in The Shawshank Redemption (1994), the camera zooms in on Morgan Freeman's face but you don't even realize it. Dissimilarly, the camera is always shaky when Marlon Brando's face is in focus because even the camera is scared of the godfather. Christian Bale's different accents in different movies are more than just about showmanship. It's about building a character and that takes extra effort. It's a different story that Charlie Chaplin managed to do so even during the Silent Era as well. There are dots to be connected in great cinema. If you miss them, nothing would change but you'll remain oblivious to what great filmmaking is all about. To appreciate it, you'll have to stare at the right people.

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