Avant garde neo realist movie by Mrinal Sen “Chaalchitra” (1981).
Young Dipu (Anjan Dutt) is a bright impressionable wannabe writer with stars in his eyes. He meets the leading editor of that time Utpal Dutt who offers him a chance to become a writer if he is able to bring in a story in two days’ time, the only condition being that the story should sell.
Dipu lives in a dilapidated chawl with his family and he sees every experience as a potential story. His mother uses coal for cooking which emits lot of smoke and is bad for the eyes and health. He then encounters the women who exchange new utensils for old clothes through extensive bargaining. He then meets a road side astrologer and interviews him to write a story.
But Dipu is not able to connect any of these stories and he is not able to put pen to paper. Two days are over and he meets the editor who is upset that he is not able to bring in a story. Dipu then narrates few themes to the editor who then becomes excited and urges him to build a story. But Dipu’s story has lots of ifs and buts upon which the editor comments that he is probably a communist.
In the end he gets a job in a newspaper not as a writer but as a technician in the press. He then finally manages to buy the much required for LPG gas for his mother. Most of the shots are closer to reality including the street shots of Calcutta. Mrinal Sen’s movie is a commentary on the state of affairs in Calcutta those times, when communism and its ideals don’t get you a job and money.
Werckmeister Harmonies, a Hungarian film made in 2000 in black and white and directed by Bela Tarr and Agnes Hranitzky. Its a kind of an allegory on the post World War II communist Hungary. Apparently, the movie is shot in 39 long takes. As a result of the long takes, there are unusually long shots of a subject such as two men walking down the road, a protest coming down the street, a man walking on the railway tracks. Don’t know what it signifies but after a point, it becomes too much. The movie is shot in natural light throughout. Not much of a story to go by, but the first scene is an enactment of a solar eclipse wherein men are placed as in the universe and solar eclipse explained and finally the hero says, there is light after much darkness. Georgy Eszter (Peter Fiz) is a pianist of repute and a fan of the German composer Andreas Werckmeister. But his piano is not tuned properly and with the result that he is not getting the right tunes of his favorite master. His wife Tunde Eszter (Hanna Schygulla) is cavorting with the government side and both of them are practically not seeing eye to eye with each other. She wants to come back but with a pretext that he procures the list of all those loitering in the town hall and fomenting trouble. Georgy is not bothered with that and does’nt want her to come back. Janos Valuska (Lars Rudolph) is their nephew looking after Georgy and another uncle. A circus comes to town, which is a metaphor for trouble. Strangely the circus has a dead whale and a character named Prince, who is ostensibly a disfigured person, but we don’t get a glimpse of him in the film except in shadows in one shot. Prince has lot of followers amongst the common folk apparently. In the end, arson and riots break out and protestors go about destroying hospital assets and beating up the patients. The cycle gets complete in the end with the army taking over completely and these two protagonists losing out.
Brilliant Polish film by Andrzej Wajda made in black & white in 1958 in a post World War II scenario. Maciek (Zbignew Cibulski), Andrzej & Drewnowski all of them ex army soldiers, have been given the job of assassinating Szczuka who is a popular leader of the Workers Party. The film takes place in 1945 immediately after Germany surrender in the war and communists are beginning to take over Poland. The three of them fail in their attempt as they mistakenly shoot two other innocent people. They come to know of their blunder and flee back to city. There their commanding officer orders another hit on the man. They come to a hotel, where Maciek falls for a bar girl Krystyna ( Ewa Krzyzewska) while Drewnowski is flirting with the hope of a career job in the ministry in the new Poland. But he gets terribly drunk. And Andrzej has been told by his commanding officer to stay away this time and let Maciek do the job. Incidentally, Szczuka is also staying in the same hotel but he comes to know that his 17 year son has joined the underground group and has been arrested by the police. The climax is quite good, there is a band playing a difficult tune at 4.30 a.m in the morning, while all three make their separate ways but to a different destiny. Zbignew Cibulski and Ewa Krzyzewska have done good roles while others are OK. Andrzej Wajda made this film in 1958 when the communists had already entrenched themselves in Poland, so this is a kind of subtle dig at the communists.
Very poignant and touching documentary on four poets who were incarcerated by their repressive regimes and speak out after their release on how they were tortured and blackmailed by their captors during their incarceration, how they kept their hopes alive, how they did not break and their lives post their release. The four poets are Nizatmedin Achmetov, Maria Elena Cruz Valera (from Cuba) Irina Ratoesjinkaja from Russia and Marcea Dinescu from Romania. Achmetov i suspect is also from Russia. What’s with dictatorial regimes and their fear of the poets and hatred for their poems. India has also imprisoned a 81 year old poet on a trumped up charges and not given bail despite many people clamoring for his release on the grounds of his ill health.
Of the four poets above, the Romanian guy speaks very little, whereas the others recount tales of horror in the prison walls including isolation cells. The Russian lady says that they started a practise of smiling at each prisoner which lifted their spirits and when they were kept close to each other in a small cell violating their private space, they adopted a method of conversing in 19th century language with lot of respect for each other, so that in turn them a space.
Listopad a Czech film about the memory of the velvet revolution. Jiri, Ondrej and Petr are teenage kids in Czechoslovakia and Martina is the cousin of one of them. They have their own dreams. This is just about the time when communism starts falling all over, starting with East Germany in 1989 and swept to other east european countries of czechoslovakia, bulgaria, hungary, romania etc. Police is deep state as usual but the kids are rebellious. The story is nicely woven into the revolution. Anita Krausova as Martina plays a good role, others are also good.