In a plain and drab school somewhere in an unknown country with a strict authoritarian regime, a regular day is completely turned around with a ridiculous announcement – the school has changed all the rules and every students is ordered to comply without question.
Not understanding the implications of resisting this authoritarian shift, the seemingly identical students find it difficult to understand why logic and truth are being thrown out of the window, while the preposterous new lesson is supposed to be the new truth. Anyone who protests has a heavy price to pay. Naturally, there are voices of dissent; and the spark of revolution to overthrow a tyrannical regime is ignited.Two & Two is an allegory for the absurdness of dictatorship and tyranny – and the resilience of the human spirit.
The best thing about this short film is that it ends with hope fro those of us who love to fight censorship with resistance. People will fight dictatorships in their own way. Expression finds new outlets whenever there is a curb on it. Look at Iranian cinema, for example.
This short film by Babak Anvari was nominated for a BAFTA in the Best Short Film category. This resonates with so many voices today as they try to find a space to speak freely and without fear.
The Hand is Czech animator Jiri Trnka‘s last and greatest work. He used puppets and stop-motion technique to make a bold statement against state repression. The film is about a sculptor visited by a huge hand, which seeks the completion of a sculpture of itself. By rejecting the imposition, the artist is constantly pursued by the hand, ending with induced suicide and the hand officiating at his funeral. The Hand is considered a protest against the conditions imposed by the Czechoslovak communist state to artistic creation. Although the film initially had no problems with censorship (which Trnka blamed on carelessness or simple ignorance), after his death copies were confiscated and banned from public display in Czechoslovakia for two decades.
Jiri Trnka was a Czech puppet-maker, illustrator, motion-picture animator and film director. In addition to his extensive career as an illustrator, especially of children’s books, he is best known for his work in animation with puppets, which began in 1946. Most of his movies were intended for adults and many were adaptations of literary works. Because of his influence in animation, he was called “the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe”, despite the great differences between their works. He received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for illustrators in 1968, recognizing his career contribution to children’s literature.
In view of the current stir at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, we share this short in solidarity with the students there.
Imagine being head over heels in love, but the worry of being judged by your friends and family, and the fear of prosecution by a rule that has painted the country red with its severe checks on every aspect of its citizens’ lives. While you may have only heard of or read about such stories, In the Mood for Love brings the painful truth of many broken hearts to the screen in a manner that touches the viewer deeply.
Deeper than the story of love, which begins with betrayal and sorrow, of finding cosy corners, of expressions, of missed kisses, of the longing to touch, but rendered immobile at the chance, the flow of silences into magical beings born on screen, is this story of Chow (Tony Leung) and Su (Maggie Cheung). The canvas on which director Wong Kar Wai paints, is the story of a secret, a story of those hidden glances, those moments of intense warmth, of those shared teas on a lazy afternoon, the story of the need to tell the world, to shout it out from the top of the tallest building, the need to share this effervescent joy because everybody is watching.
In the Mood for Love is an intensely passionate statement against the Chinese censorship, a document studying the effects of the ideology on the lives of common people. In the quest of finding the whereabouts of the spouses, the two neighbours, Chow and Su, travel the same paths and reach the same destinations as their respective partners. It is discovered that his wife and her husband are having an affair. The protagonists meet at the same places as their spouses, and slowly the story of them falling in love with each other becomes our primary track.
The nuances of the performances and the story track keeps the audience on tenterhooks. One is buoyed by their love, but left deeply saddened by the circumstances surrounding it. But the joy of the time spent and moments lived is far too abundant to be contained. This leads to the somewhat philosphical climax. The entire film bleeds your heart.
The true heroes are the cinematography by Cristopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping Bin. You feel throughout the film like you are spying on two people’s private lives. The colour red is abundant, hinting greatly at Communist censorship. The final scene in fact is the declaration that this affair is taboo to be shared with anyone in China, and hence the protagonist goes to Cambodia to share the news with the Gods. The haunting soundtrack by Michael Galasso and Shigeru Umebayashi adds an almost-solid, yet gossamer dimension to the film.
It is rare to find a film that sweeps you inside out and leaves you emotionally unhinged. Rare, yet, to find a film that does this and lets you worry about the consequences of living in a politically-charged atmosphere and dealing with the creature that is all-pervasive. In the Mood for Love is one such film — a brilliant masterpiece flushed with beautiful emotions and wonderful ideological statements.