How did I end up in this Golmaal (confusion)? ‘G’ stands for all that is good and great. So how does one select a winner from among so many deserving candidates? Does one simply give up and disappear, as if Gone With The Wind? How does one separate The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly? With so many Goodfellas, who is The Godfather of them all? The father of the nation, Gandhi? With my readers having Great Expectations, I risk becoming a Ganashatru (Enemy of the People) by choosing one over the rest.
Situations like these are when I am forced to evaluate films on factors beyond that of film-making. Which films stand up for a better world? Which films go beyond entertainment and mastery of the creative process of film-making to talk about something greater? Which films make ordinary people aspire to be good?
Eternal déjà vu. A sci-fi premise used in a completely innovative way. A unique classic that has grown over time in its popularity, a testament to its multiple layers. Hilarious and yet extremely profound. Always enjoyable in repeated viewings. This is genius that is not immediately discernible. This is genius that is disguised as popular entertainment, winking an eye to those who eventually catch it.
Extremely intelligent editing. Remarkable performances if you think about enacting the same scene over again and again not for retakes but for different scenes, altering your behavior gradually in each new scene. Read my full review here.
In a way, this is one of the most spiritual films I’ve seen. I know I will be a better person if I am reminded of Groundhog Day in the morning when I wake up. How many films or art works in general can lay such a claim?
The Great Dictator
If you remember that The Great Dictator was written before Hitler invaded Poland, much before WWII, you will acknowledge that film-makers can be great philosophers. At the time the film was released, the scenes of storm troopers terrorizing the Jewish ghetto were viewed as ‘extreme’. Chaplin paid a price for his anti-fascist, anti-racist stance, by being suspected as a communist, and being exiled from the United States.
The ballet scene with the globe has permeated cultural consciousness across the world, beyond geographies, ethnicities, and cultures. The ego-games between the two dictators – Hitler and Mussolini, speak volumes more than dialogue can. The barber shaving a customer to the rhythm of classical music. Rodin’s Thinker with an arm raised in salute. There is so much to enjoy here!
This would have been my first choice if it were not for the out of sync speech at the end. It feels out of place, too long, and dilutes the comic entertainment of the entire movie. Chaplin probably felt very strongly about democracy and individual freedom, and was adamant in retaining the speech despite criticism. But considering his overwhelming contribution to cinema, I have no qualms listening to him, for he is, The Great Director.
From you, my dear readers, in the comments! :-)