Tag Archives: History Movies

The Reader – Movie Review

Movie: The Reader

Releasing Year: 2008

Director: Stephen Daldry

Writer/Screenplay:  David Hare

Country of Origin: U.S.A & Germany

Running Time: 124 minutes

Languages: English, German, Greek

Genre: Drama, Romance, History

The Reader Movie Review:

Well ‘The Reader’ is a movie about an affair between a woman in her mid-thirties, Hanna (played by Kate Winslet) and Michael who is 15 (played by David Kross and in the later part of the movie played by Ralph Fiennes in his 60s). A movie with Nazi Holocaust as the backdrop. I have seen so many movies on this topic-the list is endless. But that event in the history of mankind, still inspires people to make movies on it. As there are so many aspects to it which the world hasn’t stopped thinking about. But ‘The Reader’ is much more than an expression on the futility of human cruelty. It is about love, reconciliation, and a woman’s pursuit to find redemption. Hanna defends herself in the war-crime trial and like many of us, realizes the severity of her crime much later in life, when it’s too late.

The Reader is a good comment on classic human behavior of ‘doing without thinking’. Hanna in the movie, at least had the courage to admit that she was one of the guards in selecting the Jews every month (as to who will go to the gallows). But her other colleagues just follow the bandwagon of ‘fallacy,’ denying their involvement in the crime. A very typical of human behavior of not wanting to rise above mediocrity, as we don’t wish to lose our comfort zone.

Michael’s affair with Hanna was more based on sexual relationship. Michael as a teenager discovers his own sexuality with Hanna who also wisely guides him in the act of lovemaking. There are good number of scenes of nudity and the experience of orgasmic fulfillment. But the relation between the two runs much deeper….more so, for Michael. Hanna is illiterate and loves to be read to. And Michael a good, animated reader reads to her some of the best works of literature (Homer’s Odyssey, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The lady with the little dog). This reading followed by sex forms a bond between them-an experience, a relation that will affect Michael for a lifetime.

Life often gives us a chance to look back at our behavior, analyse our past actions, and rise above our errors to become a more wholesome and a responsible human being. But very few can justify this chance-just a few like Hanna did in The Reader.

At the end of the movie Michael meets a Jewish woman (a survivor of the Holocaust) with an expectation of the Jewish victims to understand Hanna. The woman does not forgive Hanna’s crime but does make an effort to understand the culprit better, which for me is a step towards forgiveness. This effort of great character does somewhere make the Jewish woman a slightly more satisfied human being. And therein lies the power of forgiveness.

The Reader Performances:

The performances by Kate Winslet and David Kross as young Michael are commendable. Bob Marley once said, “Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” In this movie, Michael Berg finds that one worthy person.

 

Reviewed By: Pallavi Patil

Even The Rain (También la lluvia) – Movie Review

Movie: Even the Rain

Original Title: También la lluvia

Releasing Year: 2010

Director: Icíar Bollaín 

Writer/Screenplay: Paul Laverty

Country of Origin: Spain

Language: Spainsh, Quecha and some English

 

Even The Rain Movie Review:

A Spanish film director Sebastian (Gael García Bernal), his producer Costa (Luis Tosar) and the entire crew travels to a town called Cochabamba in Bolivia. They intend to shoot a film on the explorations of Christopher Columbus (who created European awareness of the continents of America), the greed of the Spanish monarchs that Columbus worked for and the grave injustice with which the Spanish treated the local Indians.

Sebastian is looking for the right ‘Indian’ faces to be casted in his films. When he arrives in Cochabamba with his crew, he sees long queues of people waiting to be auditioned. His first confrontation with locals sparks trouble. Danial, one of these locals is a defiant man and insists on get his daughter auditioned for the film. In the process Sebastian realises that Danial’s face has a lot of character and power required for the role of a character in the film. Irrespective of Costa’s argument that Daniel smells of trouble, Sebastian gives casts him. The shooting begins.

Storyline:

As the movie proceeds we gradually come to understand the minds of the other member and actors within the crew. The man playing Columbus has a bad family life and spends his nights drinking. The two men acting as priests in the film are very excited about their roles but we doubt how much can they really connect with the ethical and spiritual side of the characters they are playing. Sebastian’s intentions are very sincere and his innate humanity is intact. Costa on the other hand looks at using the local faces as actors at a dirt cheap price. It is here that the film initially hints at its core- how well can this ambitious crew relate or empathise with the problems of the locals. If their intention is to tell the world about how one set of people misused power to exploit the weaker set, then aren’t they supposed to be the upholders of fairness and justice in their own actions while making the film?

This city is facing major scarcity of water due to the privatisation of water supply by global economic giants. The Government and the police try to curb the protest of the people. The film draws a comparison between the storyline of Columbus and Spanish monarchy humiliating the Indians and the extension of the same phenomenon centuries later in this so called modern world. Locals are furious as they can’t even the use the rain water anymore. Hence the name- Even the rain. The ways of the modern, economy friendly world wats to own the rain too!! While the natives have hardly enough drinking water, the rest of the film crew is partying with wine and flamboyant dinners merrily talking about the film. This stark contrast insinuates us as a viewer to look at the lives of ours and others in terms of the ‘actions and the sincerity of purpose’. It asks us- How did art originate? Why are we making films, creating symphonies, writing books etc, etc.? What is the purpose behind it all? Where does all this lead us? If we were living in a utopian world, would soulful art still be relevant? Well i think the answer to this would be NO. We live in a world full of meanness, callousness, decay and rotting morals. Probably hence civilisation started investing so much into art of different sorts not just for aesthetic pleasure but more so because Art is a great leveller. It helps us retain our humanity and sense of goodness. Albert Camus once said- A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.

I think, Art helps us reflect, introspect, question. It inspires. Well all this can only happen when the ones dealing with it are honest in their endeavours. And in my opinion, it is exactly this ideology that this film is trying to talk about. If the hearts of the director and the producer have dried out, how will they ever understand the significance of water in the lives of the locals they are trying to shoot with?

Daniel slowly gets heavily involved in the protests and gets beaten and locked up by the police. Sebastian and Costa are worried about their which cannot get completed without Daniel. Costa even tries to offer Daniel money to bait him into keeping away from the protest. And then we feel that here the Sebastian and Costa have misunderstood the whole purpose of making the film! The only question that remains are – Why are you doing, what you are doing?

I have also thought that it’s not just experience that makes you wise. It’s your own thinking about your experience that initiates the growth of wisdom. Two different people can have exactly the same experiences but their take away can be completely different. Here slowly Sebastian and Costa both understand the gravity of the situation. They try and empathise with the problems of the natives. And the film takes a beautiful and desirable change- of changing the minds of people to understand the world better. Costa goes on to help Daniel in his personal crises and offers him his friendship for a lifetime. Sebastian too gets drenched in the scenario trying to think in the right perspective, even if that means he has to sacrifice the film which is his dream project.

Even The Rain Movie Verdict:

Even The Rain is a very simple film. Nothing too intellectual on esoteric about it. No mind blowing camera angles….any gimmicks. And yet it is a lovely film. The effort is very sincere and the performances of the characters give justice to it. It rekindles in you that pain and passion for lost civilisations, for the real people and for humanity in general. The pace of the film is good and gripping. There isn’t a wasted moment. The battle for water does manage to nurture the sapling of courage and camaraderie in the minds of the affluent, for fellow humans. Daniel’s sincerity as a person and the circumstances does moisten the hearts that had dried out. Do watch the film……it will quench your thirst!

 

Reviewed By – Pallavi Patil  

 

Image Source: Centro Cultural de España Montevideo

Mongol – Movie Review

Movie: Mongol

International Title: Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan

Release: 2007

Country of Origin: Russia, Kazakhstan

Languages: Mongolian, Mandarin

Genre: Drama, War, History, Adventure, Biography

Mongol Movie Review & Storyline:

As I wrote in my previous review about Sergei Bodrov’s unmatched ability to portray the great Asian Steppe and its culture. I am happy again to review another of his “masterpiece” today, Mongol. It is a story of a boy named Temujin, who went on to become the legendary Genghis Khan. The founder of the greatest and largest empire the world has ever seen. Mongol has all the elements a good movie possesses. The direction is absolutely brilliant, screenplay is awesome and cinematography is of top class. One of the best thing about Mongol is its great music and background score composed by Tuomas Kantelinen and Altan Urag.

The film starts with Temujin, a captive of the Tangut Kingdom thinking about his childhood and the hardships he faced for survival. In the flashback we get to know that at the age of 9, he was orphaned and had to struggle hard to stay alive which he did with the help of his God “Tengri”. Temujin makes a friend, Jamukha (who would later turn out to be his biggest nemesis). The movie sheds a light on the social and cultural life of the Mongols of that time. Temujin’s rival tribe abducts his wife, Borte that hurts him. To get back his wife Temujin seeks Jamukha’s help and they go to war with the Merkits (tribe). After getting back his wife, Temujin leaves Jamukha saying that he is a master of his own and can’t serve him as his second in command. Here starts a conflict between the “blood brothers”.

The story then goes on and we see a small phase of happiness in Temujin’s life. But, the time comes when he has to choose between family and his destiny. And, unsurprisingly he chooses the later. The movie ends when Temujin unites many tribes of Mongolia and defeats a large army of Jamukha and his allies. After the win, Jamukha is captured by Temujin’s men. As per the historical records Jamukha was executed by Genghis Khan, but in the movie he is seen as spared by Temujin.

My Favorite Scene from the Movie…

Rating & Verdict of this film:

I rated this film 9/10, and without any doubt it deserves this rating. Mongol offers some intense acting by lead actors. The action sequences are well-directed and one of my favorite scene was the last battle scene. Tadanobu Asano as Temujin is a brilliant choice and he never let us down. His power packed acting keeps us glued to our seats. Honglei Sun as Jamukha is equally impressive as well as explosive. The rest of the cast too has performed good.

As far as this film’s historical accuracy is concerned I am not sure about it as the history of the Great Mongol Leader, Genghis Khan has been written after his death and there are many “inaccuracies” in each account. Anyways, for a movie lover Mongol is nonetheless an absolute delight to watch. I would recommend it to everyone who loves history based films. 

STAY TUNED FOR MORE REVIEWS ON “THE WORLD OF MOVIES”…!

Mongol Full Soundtrack Playlist.

Nomad The Warrior – Movie Review

Movie: Nomad The Warrior

Original Title: Köshpendiler

Original Releasing Year: 2005 

English Release: 2007

Country of Origin: Kazakhstan

Language: English Dubbed

Original Language: Kazakh

Genre: Drama, War, History

Nomad The Warrior Movie Review & Storyline –

When it comes to portraying the history and culture of the great Steppes of Asia, Sergei Bodrov is a master of it. In Nomad The Warrior one can feel attached to the wonderful history, geography and culture of the Central Asian region. Nomad The Warrior is a highly romanticized, fictionalized and dramatized account of the early 18th century Kazakh ruler popularly called as Ablai Khan. He is best known to never submit to Russia and fighting epic battles with the Jungar/Dzungar Khanate.

Nomad The Warrior
The caravan carrying the child is attacked by the Jungars…

The movie starts with a young and wise Kazakh warrior named Oraz (Jason Scott Lee) roaming in search of the “prophesied” child. A descendent of the great Ghengis Khan who will unite the ethnic groups of Kazakhs under one flag and fight the Jungars. Finally, he finds the child in a caravan. As he approaches to see the child himself, the caravan is attacked by the Dzungar horsemen led by their invincible warrior Sharish. All are killed including the mother of the child. Oraz is able to get the child to safety. He meets the Sultan (ruler) of Turkestan city and tells him that he has saved his child. The ruler becomes happy to see the child safe and offers Oraz to ask for a gift. Oraz tells that he wants the child as his safety can only be ensured when he is in his custody. The father after getting angry at first finally agrees to this proposal by Oraz.

Nomad The Warrior
                            Mansur and Gauhar – Childhood Lovers…

Oraz then names the boy, Mansur (Kuno Becker) and teaches him to become a capable warrior. Mansur’s abilities are only matched by another pupil of Oraz called Erali (Jay Hernandez) who also happens to be Mansur’s best friend. Both the guys fell in love with the same girl, Gauhar (Ayanat Ksenbai), but none admits their love to her. Meanwhile, the Jungar leader Galdan is hell-bent to kill the prophesied child and asks his general, Sharish to attack Turkestan.

Nomad The Warrior
                          Erali and Mansur, Oraz’s best warrior…

Here arrives the time for Mansur to show his mettle which he does with flying colours. Mansur kills Sharish, an unbeaten warrior of Jungars. Now the Sultan gets to know that Mansur is his son and he announces him as heir. In a twist of tale, Gauhar has been kidnapped by the Jungars and Ereli after hearing this goes out to find her. Here, in the palace Mansur is left alone as Oraz too leaves advising him to “be aware” of betrayals.

Galdan, to avenge Sharish’s death gets Mansur kidnapped. When Mansur addresses Galdan, he tells him that as per nomadic customs this is not the way to deal with a warrior. Galdan tells him that he will respect the customs of the Kazakhs and offers him his freedom, if Mansur passes a difficult test. Mansur agrees to this proposal and passes the test, that none has passed till date. But, still he is not released as Sharish’s mother asks Galdan to make Mansur fight one on one battle with another warrior. Mansur agrees and his fight is fixed with another warrior who too is a Kazakh. A night before the fight Galdan’s daughter Hocha (Dilnaz Akhmadieva) comes to meet Mansur in secrecy and asks him to marry her and become prince of the Jungars. Mansur rejects her offer profoundly, Hocha lefts dejected.

Next day, Mansur defeats the opposing warrior. But, he is shocked to see the face of that warrior. He was none other than his beloved friend, Ereli. After this incident Mansur flees from the custody of the Jungars with Gauhar. They get married later on. Now the time for final battle arrives when Galdan with the help of his “Western” friends brings a large army with modern weapons to destruct the city of Turkestan. As was the prophecy, it happened exactly the same way. Mansur slowly got the support of various Kazakh tribes and wins the battle. He as a gesture of goodwill sends the grandson of Galdan alive to him with a message. The message read –

“From this day forth, all the Jungars and enemies of the Kazakhs must know that from the Tian-Shan Mountains to the Aral Sea lies a land that has been inhabited by the Kazakhs since ancient times. All who dare to encroach upon this land will be beaten and driven out as has been done to the Jungars. We will treat our friends with open arms, but will show no mercy to our enemies.”  Ablai Khan…

Nomad The Warrior
                      Mansur after “unknowingly” killing Erali…

Nomad The Warrior Rating & Verdict –

For good cinematography, nice direction and a great storyline I have rated Nomad The Warrior 8/10. It’s a bit more than what this movie actually deserves because Nomad The Warrior has one of the poorest english dubbing I have ever came across my life. The acting too is just above average. But, I just overlook these things because Nomad The Warrior is an entertaining stuff despite of it flaws. It is also that kind of movie which never lets you get bored while watching. So, if you are a lover of history genre then get the taste of some Kazakh one.