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Too early for tomorrow... our pet project

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Bicycle Thief

I had heard about Vittoria de Sica's The Bicycle Thief long back but had never had the opportunity to watch it until recently. And I soon enough realised why this film is so widely acclaimed.

The film is based in the post World War Italy when jobs were hard to come by, when women in Italy fetched water in buckets from a common tap, when unemployment reigned. The protagonist (Ricci) gets a job but must have a bicycle to execute it. Things get complex when the bicycle is stolen and he and his kid (Bruno) go trying to find it.

The film does not tell. It does not preach. It shows. And that is what the visual medium of entertainment is supposed to do, isn't it? And there is not much to wonder why Satyajit Ray was inspired by it. How easily the director shows the realities of life without any extra effort or spending of extra frames for these. We learn so much but yet never feel that the film is deviating.

It is no wonder that this finds mention in all lists of must watch films. Go and watch it somewhere. You will never regret it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

I have come across Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken innumerable times during my school days. And I distinctly remember our teachers explaining how relevant this piece of poetry would become in our lives. We did appreciate its implications, but then it was only in a theoretical sense.

Times when the poem could have assumed practical significance include the moments to decide whether to take up science, commerce or humanities; or whether to take up engineering or something else. I say that they were moments because these decisions were sort of automatic backed by a lot of peer pressure and parental expectations. And, hence, this poem did not look so imposing back then.

Now, when most peers are going for jobs and my parents are not deciding for me, I just let go a lucrative job and opted for higher education. Suddenly Frost is ringing louder than ever in my ears. No doubt "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, / I took the one less traveled by,..." but will "...that has made all the difference" be in a positive sense is to be seen :"...Somewhere ages and ages hence...".

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Religion in the Harry Potter series

As I was reading the books in the Harry Potter series, one factor kept nagging me from time to time: the lack of direct reference to any religious beliefs.

However, they do celebrate Christmas (they have gifts and special dinner) and Halloween. But the church services, including the regular Sunday services are missing. Neither is there any reference to Santa Claus. This is unlike the other British authors I have read. The only time a church is mentioned is in the last book when Harry visits Godric's Hollow. Of course, when the Room of Requirements transforms into the place where people hide their things, it is compared to a cathedral.

Christian names are abundant throughout. And Harry has a godfather (Sirius Black), and is a godfather to Teddy Lupin. A godfather is a Jewish/Christian concept.

There is no direct reference to any god or almighty anywhere who the magical people worship or look up to. There is this wizard called Merlin who recurs but is surely not a god. Neither is it mentioned if Voldemort wanted to be god-like. He was more interested in the Ministry and forming a new world through his faulty ideals.

It will be wrong to suppose that they are pagan as no such proof exists either.

Perhaps Rowling anticipated objections to a witch-craft laden theme from the religious sectors and so carefully steered clear of offending (through the slightest allusion) anyone. Presence of witches/wizards in a church might be enough to cause widespread agitation. The stance of the barbaric medieval church towards witchcraft was enough of a deterrence. (Though it is mentioned in the series that the church burnt all the wrong people and the actual witches/wizards managed to escape using magic, what else?)