A to Z of Films Meme (D)

How often do films disappoint us with a predictable or box-office driven ending? How many times did Directors have to change their film’s end to satisfy production studios or social/censorship pressure? Sholay with its censor-forced end, Superman II with a studio-changed director, and Ek Duje Ke Liye with a socially-forced end – countless others will come to mind. Here we look at two movies whose directors did not flinch while taking us to their logical climax.Dr Strangelove


Dr. Strangelove

The most vicious satire ever written. How can a movie make us laugh uncontrollably about the end of the world? Just that Kubrick could be ambitious to even think so is an achievement, that he succeeded brilliantly defies any description. Sellers shines in the triple role, and if he had not broken a leg, he would’ve done a quartet. The intelligent script, the innumerable comic scenes, and memorable dialogue. Pickens, as Major Kong, was reportedly not told by Kubrik that the film was a dark comedy – for the patriotic speeches of medals and decorations to the B52 crew that now seem so funny.

Like 2001, Dr. Strangelove also depicts technology invented by man, functioning as designed, but leading him to disaster. And both of these cinematic triumphs made by Kubrik, who was obsessed with technology. Go figure!

Dead Man WalkingRunner Up

Dead Man Walking

Philosophical, profound, objective and fair, and dealing with a controversial theme. Technically brilliant, emotionally powerful without being manipulative. Tim Robbins shines as Director, and Sarandon and Penn deliver stunning performances.

Sarandon’s performance shines as if she lives her character and is truly the deeply spiritual person embodied by Sister Helen. Penn, on the other hand, is powerful with details of his mannerisms, expressions, and body language. There is no feel-good ending manufactured for the box-office. Pandit Vishwamohan Bhat contributed to the score, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan provides the perfect backdrop for the end credits.


Noteworthy Mentions

Dersu Uzala – a personal favorite of Kurosawa. Dersu’s “Kapitan” cry still rings in my ears.

Dhyasparva – A Marathi film about a taboo subject. I wish they made more Marathi movies like this one!

Duck Soup – The Marx brothers at their best! Prepare for severe stomach ache before watching.


24 thoughts on “A to Z of Films Meme (D)

  1. I think for Kubrick, a recurring theme in all his films was futility of man’s intelligence rather than futility of technology (because technology is after all invention of man’s intelligence only). I had written a post on Kubrick’s cinema as read from a book on him by Norman keagen..as mentioned there, certain recurring themes were always there in his films, and futility of intelligence the most profound..
    So, two of your films have already matched with mine (2001 and strangelove) 😉
    Btw, back on Peter sellers, do you know that Ray was so pissed of with Sellers after the latter enacted a role of stereotyped Indian in “The Party” that Ray gave up his plan of working with him on a future project, which in any case didnt materialize..
    But man that guy Sellers was too good..have u seen Lolita?

  2. Mahendra

    I only just watched Dead Man Walking a few weeks ago. Agree with your assessment. Seeing actors like Sarandon and Penn in action puts the 2-bit starlets of Hollywood in perspective. The score was amazing – Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan blends well with the bleak backdrop of the film. I of course watch all the credits 🙂

    I haven’t watched the others though. If I have to watch all or some of them, I will need to change my subscription 😉 And start sleeping a bit less than I do now.

    You are on a roll here 🙂

    PS: I did my meme response in 1h30min. And it shows.

  3. Just last week I was recommending Dead Man Walking to some friends. I have seen it a bunch of times and I was moved by it every single time. Ironically, I was never able to convince myself completely on either side of the capital punishment debate. I definitely don’t support the frequency with which it is pronounced or the revenge philosophy for pronouncing it. However, I am not sure if it should be banned even for exceptional circumstances (terrorism, serial murderers etc.).

    Dead Man Walking also has one of my all time favorite soundtracks. Eddie Vedder and Nusrat together were awesome. I have seen Pearl Jam live 4 times and they actually opened one of their shows with The Long Road. I was fortunate to be there…

  4. Dr. Strangelove. Havent seen it!
    As for Dead Man Walking I had seen it once when it was released and loved it. I saw it the second time recently and watched it more critically. This time I found a wee bit of hypocrisy in the lectures that Sarandon’s character spouted. Rather, some element of hypocrisy of the director. I don’t know why I got the feeling that the director was making a movie desperately showing the “human” side of a killer and I found it unconvincing. I do not believe in capital punishment as a solution, but at the same time thought the director was trying to wring too much pity from us the audiences. Performances are ofcourse awesome.

  5. Damn, while doing this meme, I’m not getting to spend as much time on your blog as I should!

    I didn’t mean to imply futility of technology. I was musing over Kubrick’s obsession with technology, and his films depicting technology leading man to disaster. Of course, yes, it is human intelligence that is his true subject. I will read your post soon.

    Yes, our tastes have to match somewhere or the other na? 🙂

    Yes, that was an unfortunate fall-out between Sellers and Ray. The project was The Alien – from which Spielberg’s E.T. later took shape. There are also reports that Sellers kept a pet monkey and called him ‘Apu’ to spite Ray. Really unfortunate…Sellers was a gifted comedian.

    Oh yes, I’ve seen both the ’62 Kubrick and the ’97 Adrian Lyne Lolita. 🙂

  6. Thank you for affirming my experience with DMW. Do please change your subscription and write some posts! 🙂

    I’d like not to lose my momentum. Regarding your 1h30min meme response – that’s quite understandable. Just a matter of having time at hand, which I happen to at the moment.

  7. I too have not been able to attain a complete moral clarity on capital punishment. The film is brilliant in seeing the issue from all sides fairly.

    The Long Road live. Hmm. Why’re you hell-bent on making me jealous? 🙂

  8. I’m sure you’ll love Dr. Strangelove, Nita. Do watch it.

    It’s funny, but neither did I nor the select people I’ve shared this film with felt the way you did. I did not find any desperate attempt at humanizing the killer, instead, the film never tried to put that fact out of the limelight. I thought it very well balanced. Of course, all this is very subjective, so I respect your impression.

  9. Dr. S is one of my all time favories. My favorite quote is goes something like this – “You can’t fight in here. This is the war room.” Have you seen Brazil? If you liked Dr.S, you might like that.
    I agree with Nita about Dead Man walking. I saw it a really long time ago and thought it tried too hard.

  10. Seen both
    DMW is a good film , very serious and very thought provoking , penn is great, but prefer his cool surfer dude character in fast times better –

    LOve strangelove ! have seen it a dozen times and rate it as his best ever .
    Have a closer look at my display pic

  11. Yes, that, and “the auto-destruct mechanism destroyed itself”! 🙂

    No, haven’t seen Brazil – will add it to my list…thanks!

  12. Forgot to mention. Another favorite of mine is ‘The Dinner Game’. It’s one of the most hillarious movies that I have ever seen. The hindi ‘bheja fry’ was a really bad adaption of it.

  13. I’ve had Dr. Strangelove in our collection for a while now, and my husband recommends it too. For some reason I didn’t get around to seeing it. Not seen any of the rest. Looking forward to Duck Soup the most 🙂

    My additions: Dattak (Hindi).
    And another frivolous one – you won’t see it featured in any must watch lists, but it has never failed to make me laugh, no matter how many times I see it – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 😀 Total faltugiri, and I love every bit! 🙂

  14. My goodness! You have it and yet haven’t seen Dr. Strangelove! As they say in Marathi, take a spoonful of water, and you know what to do next. 🙂

    Duck Soup is must-watch comedy. Absolutely must-watch. Has some stunning scenes as well. There’s a ‘virtual mirror’ scene that is simply unbelievable.

    Hmm. Haven’t seen Dattak. Wondering about Dattak and Karakter – both father-son themes?

    Yeah, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels makes sublime entertainment contrasting Martin and Caine, both of whom are in their element!

  15. I know, I really should see it. You know, there’s something about the DVD cover that can’t get me to watch it for some reason.

    And another one (sorry to flood you with comments) – Dhund. Zeenat Aman, Danny, Navin Nishchal. The music is by someone called Ravi (his debut, probably, but not sure) – the title song has a simple but quite a haunting melody. Not very high on the film-making aspect, but a decent plot.

  16. I thought so! But couldn’t see a larger version of your gravatar. Wow, that’s great. You’re the first person I know who uses a gravatar that is a movie still. Congrats!

  17. If this helps: I always remember that the folks who package, distribute, and market a film are not the ones who make it. Appearances, like with people, can be deceptive.

    Dhund – a Hitchcokian drama inspired by a Christie plot? Sounds interesting. Would be difficult to get in India, I think. Will add to queue.

    And hey, no issues at all. Keep the comment flood going, it helps everyone out here!

  18. i loved Dr. Strangelove. Kubrick was nuts – in the nicest possible way. It’s also quite telling that a film like that will never get made today. I kept thinking of the film when the USA invaded Iraq on that trumped up WMD charge 😦

    I loved the performances of Dead Man Walking -but i found it too talky and too preachy.

    Another D i enjoyed was Do Bigha Zamin – Bimal Roy at his best.

  19. Yes, many of the films I’m writing about in this meme will not get made today, that’s so sad. And your recollection of the film in the Iraq context just shows how timeless and eternal is the film’s message.

    Haven’t seen Do Bhiga Zamin, have heard about it, but never saw it yet. Thanks!

  20. Prax, I didn’t like it very much, so didn’t make it to my list. While there are many good aspects, I found the plot meandering aimlessly, with inexplicable characters, and hence it doesn’t figure in any of my ‘Top’ lists.

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