EEE_ Religious differences
Hannah Fries sees Bollywood tackling a hot political subject in Bombay.
Bombay: ‘Iive political bomb’
anlmy is an Indian blockbuster with a political subject matter. That's a unique combination. given that Hollywood movies are invariably extravagant. entertaining. sentimental and escapist
love stories. Bombay is also a boy- meets-girl tale featuring beautiful actors and non-naturalistic techniques, in which the leads get together against the wishes of their parents. The controversial difference is that the characters are set firmly within the context ofcommunal violence in contemporary India.
Loving a shy Muslim girl (Manisha Koirala) means exile to the big city for llindu village boy Shekhar (Arvind Swamy). Marriage and children make the couple implausibly happy until January 1993. when lighting erupts on the streets of Bombay and pulls the family apart. Departing from a playful first half. the film throws itself into the horrors of those real weeks of violence. People are talking about the film as an Asian .S't'lzim/ler's List but. unlike Spielberg. director Mani Ratnam created a live political bomb on his home turf. To the outsider. the
emphasis on communal harmony seems
shamelessly corny rather than controversial. But the ﬁlm fought through bans and threats from religious fundamentalists in india on its way to becoming one of the biggest hits ever. Like the best Bollywood movies. the pace never relents and the crude emotional tug on the audience is irresistible. However. the lavish song and dance sequences have been cut for the film's European release; the remaining package has so much over—
: the-top energy anyway. so why not take
it all the way'.’ Bum/Ni). /5 Aug. ('u/nm /. 6.45pm; 23 Aug. ('mnm /. 7pm. [6 ([4).
‘It has the quality of a cinema without precedent,’ wrote Tony Rayns in the Monthly Film Bulletin when Sergei Paradjanov’s Armenian-made 1969 film The Colour 0! Pomegranates was given its first official export release (albeit in a mangled print) in the UK in 1983. Indeed viewers coming fresh to the work of this Georgian-born poet of the cinema, four of whose ten completed features found distribution in Britain before his demise from cancer in 1990, can be guaranteed that they will never have seen anything like it. While 1964’s Carpathian folk chronicle Shadows Of Our Forgotten Ancestors announced the presence of a wildly original filmmaker from the wider reaches of the old Soviet Union, it was the
belated emergence in the West of The Colour 0! Pomegranates, a visually-
. overwhelming fantasia on the life of the 18th century Armenian poet ' Sayadian (or ‘Sayat flova’ meaning
‘King of Song’), which revealed just how special this man was. At first glance, it’s almost too much
’ 1 to take in: a filmic supernova of
arcane folk references and paraphernalia, melded together with an endlessly flexible sense of grammar. An insider’s knowledge might be needed to grasp the finer
points of interpretation, but it’s almost
certain that the film’s celebratory attitude to its national cultural history
(ie Armenia, not the USSR), as well as
Paradjanov’s support for a number of
, political dissidents, contributed to his
eventual imprisonment on charges of art trafficking and homosexuality.
Happily, he was later released and
able to continue making films up until
the time of his death, captured on camera in flariné Mkrtchian’s
remarkable documentary portrait
Bobo, screening here to supplement a
major event: a rare public screening of . The Colour 0! Pomegranates in
Paradjanov’s own definitive cut rather than the re-edited version presently in
circulation. Another feather in the cap of the DEFF. (Trevor Johnston)
The Colour 0! Pomegranates, 14 Aug, Cameo 1, 9.30pm; 19 Aug, Filmhouse
1, 8.15pm. £6 (£4). Bobo, 15 Aug,
Filmhouse 2, 4pm; 18 Aug, Filmhouse 2, 6.30pm. £6 (£4).
THE GOAT HORN
To describe the overriding impact of this Bulgarian folk tale, the phrase ‘deeply disturbing’ springs most readily to mind. With dialogue kept to a bare minimum, director Nikolai Volev propels a terrifying story almost entirely by images. Following the brutal rape and murder of their wife and mother, a father and daughter face up to their futures in very different ways. She grows and opens up to her world, absorbing the enchanting autumnal landscapes and soothing cowbells, discovering her sexuality and womanhood. lle, however, fails to cope with the horrific reality of his predicament, becoming a fright-masked vigilante holed up in a dark and expressionist cave, plotting his revenge to the sounds and images of lightning and raging thunderstorms. Despite moments of great beauty and enlightenment, the prevailing wasteland of human life ensures that the emotional spotlight is ultimately held by a sobering sense of loss. (Lawrence Atkinson)
The Coat Horn (Film Festival) 14 Aug, Filmhouse 1, 1pm; 16 Aug, Cameo 3, 8.30pm. £6 (£4).
WEE— eunur BY THE sun
from writer-producer-director and leading man Nikita Mikhalkov responds to
Russia’s current state of social flux by looking back to another period of upheaval in the country’s turbulent post-revolutionary journey. It is 1936 and
General Kotov (Mikhalkov) is enjoying a hero’s rest on his country dacha, when
the arrival of wandering musician and all-round fixer Dimitri (Oleg Menchikov, a mercurial performance) alters the delicate balance of life in the household forever. What looks like a sunny comedy of manners turns progressively darker in a remarkable piece that dares to take in bitter sweet romance and deepening
' hints of tyrannical nightmare. A deceptively trenchant, deeply-felt work, it will
show alongside Mikhalkov’s documentary Anna 6-18, a portrait of his daughter and the times in which she’s grown up. (Trevor Johnston)
; Burnt By The Sun, 16 Aug, Cameo 1, 7pm; Thurs 17 Aug, CF T, 7.30pm. £6 (£4). ; Anna 6-18, 16 Aug, Cameo 1, 4pm; 17Aug, Cameo 3, 6pm. £6 (£4).
The List 11-17 Aug 1995 67