Two Good Movies

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was repeatedly mentioning to my wife that we should see the “2018” movie in the theatre. Thanks to my travel and weekend preoccupations didn’t make it. So it was a welcome blessing when I saw “2018” coming on OTT. 2018 (marketed as 2018: Everyone is a Hero) is a 2023 Indian Malayalam-language survival thriller film directed by Jude Anthony Joseph, who wrote the screenplay with Akhil P. Dharmajan. The film stars Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Narain, Asif Ali, Vineeth Sreenivasan, and Lal with an ensemble supporting cast. The film was based on events during the 2018 Kerala floods.

Two and a half hours of the movie were so captivating. In the movie “2018”, we were immersed in that sea of emotions. It showed how ordinary people came together to help each other. All the scenes were apt and in my view, it had all the elements of storytelling. These days background score plays a very important part in raising our emotions. As some critics mentioned, ” The makers quickly establish that rain is a pervasive and influential character in the movie”. I was recollecting that time when I was constantly on the phone with my mother and how our neighbors helped shift my ailing grandmother to the first floor of the house. The best line of the movie was in the credits:

Every calamity is news until it hits you.

The next movie which caught my attention was “The Bucket List”. The Bucket List is a 2007 American buddy adventure comedy-drama film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The main plot follows two terminally ill men on their road trip with a wish list of things to do before they kick the bucket. I had seen this movie on my last trip on the flight. For a change, I left reading in that journey and decided to take a look at the offerings in their cinema list. I was tempted to click J Edgar ( My favorite actor Di Caprio) but I made my choice on that flight with a Bucket list. I forced everyone including my niece to watch the movie “The Bucket List” on a Friday evening. I was not sure how my family will like the movie. We had some good laughs and quiet moments. I liked the two questions which Morgan asks Jack while they were sitting in Egypt and witnessing the breathtaking view of the Pyramid.

Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?

***Spoiler Alert***

Both movies made me think and ponder on this question: What do actors do to make that emotional attachment? In both the movies the main hero and heroes die. Their passing away leaves us with a void at that moment and we feel sad.

I believe in serendipity. A couple of days later as I was looking for a book on emotions. I picked the book “How we feel” (for a random read) by Giovanni Frazzetto. I was interested in knowing more about emotions. Those two movies had given me some feel-good moments and also touched me emotionally. The first page I opened was on Empathy: The truth behind the Curtains. I got some part of the answers.

In the concluding pages of his treatise ” The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin acknowledged the power of theatre to evoke emotions: ‘ Even the simulation of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds’. To back up this assertion, he recalls Hamlet’s awe at the player’s ability to manufacture emotions. Theatre is definitely a prism through which light is scattered in a whole rainbow of emotions. Quotes from Shakespeare’s plays are used by Darwin as supporting proof for his own observations.

  • He praised the Bard as being an excellent judge of emotions and as a man with a wonderful knowledge of the human mind
  • When Darwin describes the emotion of fear, he explicitly cites Brutus’s reaction to seeing the ghost of Caesar.
  • In support of his observations on rage, Darwin quotes Henry V’s battle speech to his soldiers, when he urges them to stiffen their sinews and summon up the blood….set their teeth and stretch their nostrils wide.
  • When writing about shrugging, he mentions Shylock from The Merchant of Venice.

How does theatre/cinema cast its magic spell? I got a good answer.

In the darkness of performance, we participate in an active emotional exchange. We are launched into a story and the plight of its protagonists. We experience the vicissitudes of fictional characters with unique desires and intentions, the realization of which is often conflicted. By doing that, we shed light on our own. By watching on stage and screen a snapshot of the lives of others, we are watching what could happen to us and we are learning about our own world. This gives us the chance to empathize with the characters and grasp what they are going through.

German philosopher Robert Vischer introduced ” Einfuhlung” which means “feeling into” referring to the field of psychology of aesthetic experience to remark on how an observer perceives a work of art he or she contemplates. Empathy is like an invisible bond with the power to unite us with other human beings and blurs the dividing line between ourselves and them – as is the case for me and the characters in the two good movies.

Now I understood, how on my last trip to an art gallery my wife was in front of a painting/artwork and she was visibly enjoying it for some time. That meant a viewer empathizes, or fuses with it – just as I was absorbed into these two good movies.

A few days ago my wife and I saw a clip on Chekov’s gun. She is a writer who was very fascinated with Chekov’s rules of storytelling which are:

  1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of political-social-economic nature
  2. Total objectivity
  3. Truthful description of persons and objects
  4. Extreme brevity
  5. Audacity and originality: flee the stereotype
  6. Compassion

I was curious whether my younger daughter liked the movie “The Bucket List”, so I asked her for her comments and pat came to the reply,” I would like to see a few movies by Jack Nicholson, so “A Few Good Men” movie is on the playlist next.” I told her to get ready to handle the truth. Two good movies made me realize that the next generation will appreciate any genre as long as those elements are covered well.

“2018” brought people together to overcome obstacles and “The Bucket List” showed how both cared for each other and make their love memorable in the last days of their lives. As my friend put it nicely yesterday actors and acting becomes one and that is what I saw in these two movies.

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