The Greatest films of all time: 93.The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France)(2007)

Introduction:

Based on the memoir of Jean-Dominique Bauby (played by Mathiu Amalric), the editor of the French fashion magazine, Elle, who was paralyzed by a rare massive brain stem stroke, called “Locked-in Syndrome”, the film is a non-conventional biopic. The memoir itself published in 1997 received universal acclaim and in the first day of publication sold 25,000 copies and in a week 150,000 and soon became the number one best seller across Europe. Locked in his own body with a totally intact brain, still capable of thinking, imagining, loving, remembering and still communicating by the blink of eyes, both the memoir by Bauby himself and the film adaptation by Julian Schnable is a human heroism to record such an emotional subjective experience that otherwise could not have been appreciated.

A Locked-in Journey needed to be told:

Taking laborious hours of work between Bauby and a female transcriber, from the publishing company, building the words letter by letter with the blink of his left eye (as his right eye due to dryness had to be stitched) to write his emotions, memories and regrets of a successful and happy life is an extraordinary rarity. The writing of the book took on average about 2 minutes for each word, and about 200,000 blinks in 10 months of working 4 hours a day, but the man dies from pneumonia two days after the successful publication of his book on March 9, 1997. The depiction of such heroic memoir to pass on to the millions of viewers across the globe to appreciate the life that often is taken for granted is another heroism specially when done masterfully on film.

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The most part of the film is shown through the eyes and mind of Bauby as if the camera has been placed in his eyes and brain. The film opens in a hospital at Breck-sur-Mer by the sea when Bauby wakes up three weeks after being in coma from his massive stroke. The surrounding is seen blurry from the patient’s view, but gradually clears up with a better vision. The nurses and the doctor are all excited that Bauby has finally come to life, but he is still totally paralyzed and mute, while can see, hear and think. Slowly Bauby realizes that he is trapped in his own physical body, a rare stroke of the brain stem that the doctors called it “Locked-in-syndrome”. We hear Bauby’s thinking and feelings loud, but no one in the hospital can hear him as he is aphasic and cannot speak.

Soon Bauby is helped by a beautiful speech therapist, Henriette (Anne Consigny) who when she comes in the first time with another beautiful physiotherapist, Bauby thinks he has died and is in heaven. Henriette gradually helps Bauby (she calls him Jean-Do as his friends used to call him) to identify the alphabetical letters by blinking eye to make out words for communication with the outside world. Henriette from the start takes an interest in her patient beyond her job and spends more time with Bauby, hoping his recovery and soon to speak. She even gets upset at him when he is hopeless about his progress. While a laborious process, Bauby accepts and cooperates with the therapy and blinking as the only way of reaching out to his surrounding and others, including Celine (Emmanuelle Seigner), his ex-common law and the mother of his three children who often comes visiting him.

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The Greatest films of all time: 93.The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France)(2007)

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The Greatest films of all time: 92. Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico/Spain) (2006)

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Introduction:

A fairy tale like no others, rooted in the real time and through the eyes and mind of a young girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who seeks escape from the sad and torturous reality of her life to a fantasy world. The film opens with the scene of her in car travelling with her pregnant mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil) to the country to stay with the army captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) of the fascist government of general Franco, the father of their expecting son after the Spanish civil war in 1944. Reading one of the many fairy tales books that she has brought along with her, we hear the fairy tale of the Princess Moanna, whose father is the king of underworld visits the human world, where the sunlight blinds her and wipes out her memory. She becomes mortal but her father believes that one day her spirit will return to the underworld, so he builds labyrinths with an entry portal around her world for her return.

 

A Fairy Tale for escape from the bitterness of Reality:

With the above fantasy fairy tales as a prompt, the car that Ofelia and her mother are inside followed by a couple of army cars as escorts, stops midway in a woods as her mother is sick with her pregnancy. Walking a few steps in the woods, Ofelia encounters a big flying insect whom she calls a fairy. The insect or the fairy follows her to the house of the captain when they arrive and even at night in her bedroom asking her to follow him. Arriving in a labyrinth, the fairy transforms to a minute half human figure or fauna, who takes her to a bigger faun, half human-half goat like. Ofelia is told by the faun that she is the Princess Maonna of immortal descent but needs to enter their world for a test to determine if she is still intact and her merit has not been corrupted by the earthy life.

Meanwhile the mean fascist captain Vida proves to be a monster who has probably murdered Ofelia’s father as a republic resistant fighter, as he kills with his bare hands an arrested young man for the possession of a rifle and hunting rabbit then shoots his father. Later entering the underground labyrinth, the brave Ofelia now believing to be a princess encounters a giant frog who after testing her bravery and not being frightened of him, vomits a golden key that Ofelia needs to open the portal entry to the underworld with. Meanwhile in the evening at the dinner table where captain has invited his accomplices, we witness a priest among the army officers supporting the Spanish fascist government.

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The Greatest films of all time: 92. Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico/Spain) (2006)

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The Greatest films of all time: 91.The Aviator (USA) (2004)

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Introduction:

The best of Leonardo DiCaprio ever, and the best of Martin Scorsese since Taxi Driver, “The Aviator” was like a jackpot winner for the duo, due to its subject story. Based on the life story of Howard Hughes, an American genius, adventurer and the creator of one of the earliest aviation epics on the screen, “Hell’s Angels”, The Aviator brings his memory back. A business giant, record-setting pilot, filmmaker, and philanthropist that founded a huge medical institute for research that as of 2007 was the fourth largest private such organization, Hughes was as vulnerable as any ordinary man. Suffering from a severe OCD that DiCaprio demonstrates it the best on the screen, the film like Hughes’ life in between all the adventures and actions, is humane and touching.

The Aviator: Legends suffer too:

The film opens with Hughes’ childhood when his young mother bathes and warns him about an incident of Cholera epidemic at the time and that he is not safe. Hence sowing the seed of obsession about germs for the rest of his life. Jumping from there to 1927 when the 22 years old Hughes struggles hard to make his own aviation epic film, showing the world his largest airport in the world. Filming his airplanes with his 24 cameras, he needs two more cameras that when asking some Hollywood producers faces their mocks and rejections. Realizing that the movements of the planes in his film are not depicted on the screen well, smart Hughes discovers that he needs clouds in the background to show the actions better. He employs the best meteorologist, professor Fitz (Ian Holm) from UCLA to find him clouds and pays him double of what university paid him.

Forced to close his aviation film project due to its highly cost and not getting anywhere, he does not quit and keeps pushing forward against his business consultant, Noah Dietrich (John C. Reilly) advice and finishes his “Hell’s Angles”. The film is received with a huge accolade in its preview opening in Hollywood against all the odds. A star-studded life filled with relationships with the great stars of the golden age of Hollywood, from Jane Harlow (Gwen Stefani) to Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), Hughes and the film is not only about his aviation adventure and filmmaking, but his sexual appetite and romances as well. One of the best example of American ambition, Hughes not only flew his airplanes and set records the first times, he took his lovers like Hepburn on a flight ride at night over Hollywood and LA and let her on the wheel.

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A perfectionist in the design and build of his aircrafts, Hughes infuriates his engineers like Glenn “Odie” Odekirk (Matt Ross) when not fulfilling his expectations. Pushing himself and his planes to the limits, in one of his flight speed race test, he breaks the record of the fastest man on the planet in 1935, but at the end he crushes the plane into a farm field. Right after his record breaking air race, while Hepburn tends to his foot injury, Howard shows his other humane and fragile part when he reveals to her that at times he gets some ideas and sees things that are not real. His adventure takes another extreme by being the first man to fly around the globe in four days. One of the first signs of his OCD in the powder room of a reception is when he washes his hands with his personal bar of soap and refuses to hand the towel to a man on a walker who cannot reach it due to his obsession.

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The Greatest films of all time: 91.The Aviator (USA) (2004)

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The Greatest films of all time: 90.Oldboy (South Korea) (2003)

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The film unconventional in many ways, opens with a future scene when the principal character, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) holding a man by his tie off a high terrace on the verge of falling. With this introduction of the persona, next he is seen drunk in a waiting room beside a man and a young woman, asking the man if he flirted with his daughter. Then he goes to the corner of the waiting room to urinate but is stopped by two police officers. He keeps talking tipsy that today is his daughter’s fourth birthday and his name means “take things one day at the time”. Then he cries that why he cannot get through the day today. His hand is finally cuffed to the wall while sitting that calms him down a bit.

 

Finally a friend, No Joo-hwan (Ji Dae-han) releases him from the custody of the police. In the next scene Oh Dae-su is in a phone booth calling his daughter about her birthday and that he has a nice present for her. Then when Joo-hwan finishes talking to Oh Dae-su’s wife on the phone finds him missing. In the following scene after the title and credits of the film, we learn that Oh Dae-su has been kidnapped and placed in a cell. First only his face is shown out of a small opening on the bottom of the door of his cell, asking the reason of his captivity and how long he will be kept there as two months have already passed. In the next scene the place is shown to be a run down motel room.

From now on the film is a one man show and dialogue. He tells us that whenever a music is played there will be a sedative gas released in his room when people come in to clean the room, change his clothes and shave him. Through watching TV, that is his only company, entertainment, source of news and information of the outside world, a year later he finds out that his wife has been murdered with the suspicion of a personal motive reported by the police and him being the main suspect. Year after years is passed and Oh Dae-su, thinking hard of who could be his kidnapper(s) and makes a long list of those whom he might have offended. Through watching TV, he learns boxing and fighting and plans to take his revenge of those who kidnapped him. The major events of the outside world such as handing Hong Kong back to China, the inauguration of South Korean president and his visit of North Korea, the death of Princess Diana, the turn of the new millennium and the 9/11 fall of the New York City twin towers are all shown on TV through 15 years of his captivity. Finally after 15 long years, a young woman walks in his room, hypnotize him and telling him “imaging you open your eyes and you’ll be in field of green grass in the open air under the bright sun”.

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In the next scene in a field of green grass, there is a suitcase that when opens up, Oh Dae-su gets out and sees himself in an exact place that the female hypnotist suggested. In a long shot the green grass field is revealed to be on the rooftop of a high building where weeds and grass have grown. After getting use to the eye-blinding bright sun after 15 years of living in a locked up room, he sees a young man with little dog on the roof top. He approaches the man, touches him to see if he is real, for not touching any live flesh all those years, but the man who has been apparently on the roof to jump and kill himself, is suddenly grabbed by his tie by Oh Dae-su when he tried to jump down. Then the two sit down and tell each other their own stories.

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The Greatest films of all time: 90.Oldboy (South Korea) (2003)

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The Greatest films of all time: 89. At Five in the Afternoon (2003) (Iran)

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A tribute to the famous poem of the Spanish poet and freedom fighter in the Spain civic war, Federico Garcia Lorca, the film is the creation of Samira Makhmalbaf, the daughter of Mohsen Makhmalbaf at age 23. Acting in her father’s film, “The Cyclist” at age 7, she made her own first feature “The Apple” at age 17 that screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998 and later in over 100 other film festivals and more than 30 countries across the globe. Her next feature “Blackboards” two years later in 2000 won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. While her father’s film “Kandahar” was the first major feature about Afghanistan at the time of ruling by Taliban, “At Five in the afternoon” of Samira brought the attention of the world to the still repressed condition in Afghanistan particularly of women.

The film opening on two young women carrying water from a well on a desert nearby of their village while in the background a female voice reading part of the Lorca’s poem of “five in the afternoon”. Covered in burqa, the girl “Noghreh” (Agheleh Rezaei) reaching her home, putting down the pales of water, picks up her book and gets on her father’s horse carriage to attend school. Reading her book loud that is Koran on the ride, they pass through Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, we witness the poor condition of the country even after the American invasion and the fall of Taliban. Reaching the school that is a religious one, Noghreh enters through the front, passes by all the female students covered with burqa unnoticed, exiting through the back door takes out a pair of dress shoes from her bag, puts it on and opens her burqa, so we see her face for the first time. Walking on the road with her uncovered face, an old passing man in surprise and disgust, turns away from her and asks the god forgiveness for her sin.

Then Noghreh walks in a regular school where all the girls’ faces like hers are uncovered, while all attend real education by a female teacher. Noghreh explains to the teacher that her father (Abdolgani Yousefzai) does not yet allow her to attend school. The teacher asks the girl students what career they would like to have in the future that many pick to be teachers, engineers and doctors, but when they are asked who would like to be the future president of the country, first nobody dares to say so, then Noghreh and a few others stand up for such career. Afterwards there is a heated discussion among the girls about the possibility and impossibility of a female president in Afghanistan. Majority of the students believe that a woman never could reach such post as their country is not even like Pakistan when Noghreh makes an example of Benazir Bhutto.

While the film like a documentary discusses the repressed condition in Afghanistan at the 21st century through the dialogues, it is not shortcoming to show the same in beautiful imagery of not only the poverty and oppression in the country, but its striking beautiful landscape and its people in their amazing colorful clothings. After the school and going to collect water from the well again, Noghreh runs into a few trucks unloading a large group of refugees of Afghan women, children and old men who had to flee Pakistan from Taliban. She feels sympathetic and leads them to the ruins around her home to stay in. Hundreds of these refugees lay down around Noghreh’s house and when a family occupies half of the living room of her sister-in-law’s (Laylemo) (Marzieh Amiri) who struggles in survival with her little baby whom she has not enough breast milk to feed, she protests.

In another scene, Noghreh’s father who is traditional and religious like many others in Afghanistan, protests to another old man who listens to a radio music and calls it a sin, that the old man responds that he is alive for the music. Noghreh’s father who does not like her and his daughter-in-law (Laylemo) to live close to the strange refugees specially men leave the village with them at night. Staying overnight in the wreckage of an airplane close to the airport, Laylemo reveals to Noghreh that her baby may die as she has no milk, or food to feed her. At the same time like a curious journalist, Noghreh keeps asking the refugees who lived in Pakistan about Benazir Bhutto and how good a prime minister she was. Here she meets a young man (Razi Mohebi) who writes poetry and tries to avoid politics.     

The scene in the ruins of Darul Aman Palace in the vicinity of Kabul, where Noghreh and her father walk in for the search of water when they hear the sound of water dripping is strikingly a visual masterpiece. Her father while walking with his horse who’s also struggling with thirst and hunger in the ruins, apologizes to the animal for not being able to take care of him. Walking out of the palace, Noghreh runs into a white UN soldier from France. She introduces her then asks his name and who’s the president of his country. She is again after the inquiry of finding the qualities of the presidents in different countries with the hope to become the leader of her own one day. The French soldier recommends that she needs to promote herself by advertising that the young poet who has just joined their conversation, suggest her to need photos for her campaign.

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The Greatest films of all time: 89. At Five in the afternoon (2003) (Iran)

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The Greatest films of all time: 88. Finding Nemo (2003) (USA)

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Introduction:

The science fiction and fantasy that Spielberg and Lucas started in films at the end of the past 20th century, proceeded to more unrealistic fantasies, magic and sorcery in the new 21st century by others with films such as Lord of The rings, Harry Potter and Pirate of the Caribbean that all went to series of franchises like other capitalist commodities. In between from Pixar animation studios that produced the first fully animated film of Toy Story that continued until the most recent fourth edition, came out “Finding Nemo” that was more rational and not stupefying the audience like the others. Moreover the visual beauty of the film electrified the viewers while its heartwarming and at times thrilling story was well absorbed by the children and adults alike.

Andrew Stanton who wrote the story of all Toy Story series, wrote and also directed “Finding Nemo”. With the amazing cinematography of Sharon Calahan and assistant Jeremy Lasky, “Finding Nemo” is an eye-catching visual art of a combination of old style Disney’s colorful cartoons crafted with digital animation. The set location of the story being deep in the ocean with all colorful sea lives under demanded the film to be perfectly vivid and eye pleasing that the makers of this great film achieved. Winner of the Academy Award for Best animated Feature, “Finding Nemo” became the highest grossing animated film and the second highest grossing film of 2003. The film also became the best-selling DVD title of all time selling over 40 million copies.

A Pleasure to the Eyes and Beyond:

“Finding Nemo” is a celebration of the wonderful and colorful life deep in the ocean while telling a tangible story with thrills. A clown fish couple arrive in an ocean neighborhood where they chose it as their new living place. The female lays many eggs with the plan to raise their family there, but a barracuda attack kills and consumes her and all the eggs, except one that the father clown fish, Marlin names Nemo. Nemo grows enough to attend school with the other fishes and sea creatures. On the first day of school, Nemo with his schoolmates when they see a boat, tease each other for who could get close to the boat and touch it that Nemo does and suddenly gets caught in a net by a scuba diver.

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Marlin having lost all his family and now the last one Nemo is in captivity, in panic chases the boat, but with no luck and Nemo later on is sold to a dentist in Sydney, Australia and thrown in an aquarium. Marlin in the search of finding Nemo desperately looking and asking around. He runs into a blue fish, Dori who has very short memory and despite her shortcoming, eagerly is trying to help Marlin to find Nemo. In their chase, Marlin sees the mask of the diver that falls in the water and Dori reads an address on it and despite her short memory loss, she knows where the place is. The couple keep swimming and passing through quite many places and adventures, including three sharks, a school of moonfish who make beautiful shapes and help them with the direction by dancing and assembling together. In their chase adventure they encounter a forest of jellyfish that stings them almost to death, but when they wake up from their loss of consciousness from the stings, they find themselves on the east Australian current. Here they meet a sea turtle family who spread the news across the ocean and a pelican named Nigel brings the news of the location of Nemo in the dentist office.

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The Greatest films of all time: 88. Finding Nemo (2003) (USA)

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The Greatest films of all time: 87. City of God (2002) (Brazil)

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Introduction:

While cinema in Hollywood and the western countries falls at a non-imaginable speed, the global cinema in other countries such as Mexico, Iran, China and Brazil rises. “City of God” in a big surprise comes out of Brazil, a country that had never released a major feature film. This time and this film is not about poverty, children and war torn lands, but about all of these and more. Ironically the city of God is not a religious city running by God or his representatives, but it is a slum outskirt of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, far away from the postal card beauty of its beaches. In the city of God, poverty, guns, violence and drug lords and ruthless gangs rule. In the city of God worse than the war torn lands of Africa and middle east, the children are armed and dangerous, so “If you run the beast catches you, if you stay the beast eats you”.

Directed by Fernando Meirelles who started filmmaking in late 80s with not much success internationally, City of God brought global attention to him so that three years later in 2005 was hired by producers in England, US and Germany to make “The Constant Gardner” with a full English and American cast. The film’s opening symbolically and at the same time realistically introduces the City of God to the audience by showing a large blade is sharpened on a stone to slain chickens. The frightened look of a chicken witnessing the slain of his fellow chickens and being dipped in hot water is smartly amazing. The scared chicken manages to escape and a bunch of boys carrying guns in their hands chase to catch the her on the streets. The boys start shooting at the poor chicken and ask the passer byes to catch her with no reservation to shoot at whoever does not obey their demand. The chicken finally stops between the gang and a young normal boy, Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) while all the guns are aimed at him to catch the chicken or will be shot at. Rocket then starts narrating the story of his neighborhood and that his family like many others escaped the expensive Rio to live there in peace.

City of God: Ruled by Devil:

The film flashes back to how things started with the “Tender Tri”, three petit thieves, Shaggy (Jonathan Haagensen), Clipper (Jefechander Suplino), and Rocket’s older brother, Goose (Renato de Souza) robbing trucks and share the money with the community who, in turn, hid them from the police. A young boy, Li’l Dice (Douglas Silva) who tries to be part of the gang and smarter than the trio, convinces them to hold up a motel and rob its occupants that earn them more money than robbing trucks. While the trio plans not to kill anyone but rob the occupants, Li’l Dice who lies that the police is coming and forcing them to flee in a stolen car, goes in the motel after they leave and massacre everyone even the employees of the motel ruthlessly. The gang split, Shaggy runs away home and Goose and Clipper hides in the woods. Two detectives who follow them into the woods, one suggests to the other to keep the stolen money for themselves when they arrest the gang. Here the film shows both sides being, but one on the law side and the others outlaws.

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The massacre changes the trio’s lives, Clipper scared of the police decides to leave the gang life and joins the church, Shaggy is shot by the police while trying to escape and Goose is shot by Li’l Dice after taking his money. The day Shaggy died and while on the ground his picture was taken by the reporters, Rocket for the first time sees a camera and decides to buy one and starting photography. One day on the beach with his friends, taking photos, his eyes fall on the beautiful Angelica (Alice Braga) and falls in love with her. The beautiful camera shots with angles, close ups and panoramic. To please Angelica, Rocket would do anything and go anywhere including going to the drug dealers and get her some.

Entering the apartment of the drug dealer, Blacky (Leandro Firmino da Hora) to buy Angelica some coke, Rocket tells the story of the apartment where was a base of drug trafficking in the city of God. Dona Zelica when her husband, a drug dealer dies runs the business herself to feed her children and employs the neighborhood kids. Soon the best of these delaer kids, Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele) takes over the operation and later on finds the place ill fated, he passes it on to Blacky. Then Li’l Dice who has been popular as ruthless robber and killer and extensively frightened, by encouragement of his friend Benny ((Phellipe Haagensen) that drugs are more profitable kills Blacky and takes over hhis business and calls himself Lil’ Z. Here the film flashes back in narration, showing how Lil’ Z startedas a young boy with the shooting massacre of the motel years back. He narrates that he killed everyone in the motel even the employees just for fun as he thought his pals had all the fun of the robbery and he had none. He was thrilled by the killing one by one that the film shows graphically. Rocekt, the narrator tells that he fled the city of God to avoid punishment and started working hard for his money and quit misconduct for a while, but as “A hood doesn’t stop, hood takes a break”, when one day Shaggy finds him and takes his earned money, he shoots and kills him and gets back to his killings then drug business. By age 18 Lil’ Z becomes the most popular, respected and feared of hood around, even in Rio.

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The Greatest films of all time: 87. City of God (2002) (Brazil)

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The Greatest films of all time: 86. Kandahar (2001) (Iran)

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Introduction:

Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the creator of Kandahar started his filmmaking more independently than the rest of the new wave filmmakers in Iran who rose out of the Institute for the intellectual development of children and young adults. Makhmalbaf holding free and revolutionary ideology from his teens, spending 5 years in the Shah’s jails for stabbing a policeman and released only on the wake of the Islamic revolution, soon used camera to bring the bitter neorealism of the suppressed Iranian culture for thousands of years to the screen.  

His second film “Boycott” in 1985 exposed the dictatorship regime of Shah of Iran through depicting the story of a political activist being charged with death sentence only for his communist ideology. With his third feature “The Peddler”, Makhmalbaf reached a global level of audience and proved to have mastery over the visual art of cinema, and not being only an intellectual ideologist. With his artistic and thoughtful use of camera, beautiful and colorful cinematography, masterful editing and mix of proper music scores, Makhmalbaf became a world level master of cinema, specially with “The Cyclist”. Righteously he picked the ordinary and poor people in their struggles for survival in life as the common subjects of his films, and this way he showed well to the world the suppression of his people in Iran and their neighbor Afghanistan with their culture, and cry for freedom.

 

Before his greatest masterpiece, Kandahar, Makhmalbaf from 1986 when he made “Boycott”, created one film almost every year, “The Peddler” in 1987, “the Cyclist” and “Marriage of the Blessed” in 1989, “the Nights of Zayande-rood” in 1990, “Time of Love” in 1991, “Once upon a time, Cinema” in 1992, “The Artist” in 1993, “Hello Cinema” in 1995, “A Moment of Innocence” and “Gabbeh” in 1996, “The Silence” in 1998, “Tales of Kish” in 1999, and “Tales of an Island” in 2000, and in between several short films. Unfortunately Makhmalbaf who fought the dictatorship of Shah with the hope of a democratic revolution, had to continue with his fight against another dictatorship that finally banned him of his enlightening filmmaking and forced him to flee his homeland like a gypsy refugee with his family, running from country to country, Afghanistan, Tajikstan, India and finally France where he could settle. Makhmalbaf is perhaps unique among all the great filmmakers in the world in producing three great filmmakers within his own small nuclear family, his two daughters Samira and Hana Makhmalbaf and his wife Marzieh Meshkini, all known to the global cinema.

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Kandahar: A Journey to the Dark Ages

Kandahar or per its Persian’s title “A Journey to Kandahar” is the story of the journey of a young Afghan woman, Nafas (Nelofar Pazira) who had escaped Afghanistan years ago and now living safely in Canada as a journalist, is back to her war torn country to see her sister who has been left behind. Her sister who is now crippled by stepping on a mine has sent her a letter that she plans to commit suicide on her own behalf and the rest of women suffering in Afghanistan on the last solar eclipse of the millennium. Hence Nafas has only three days to reach her sister save her life, while the journey through a country ruled by Taliban, who treat women as a slave and material possession under cover of Burqa is almost impossible. Getting a ride from a Red cross helicopter, she lands at a refugee camp on the Iran-Afghanistan border with the plan to pass through and reach her sister in Kandahar.

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The Greatest films of all time: 86. Kandahar (2001) (Iran)

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The Greatest films of all time: 85. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001) (Canada)

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Introduction:

At the dawn of the second millennium and the fall of cinema as an enlightening art medium, Hollywood fast and furious facilitated this by stupefying people by depicting sorcery and magic like in the dark ages with films such as “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and “The Lord of the rings”. But at the same time around the world there has been a huge effort to survive this art medium. Through this endeavor, groundbreaking works of cinema such as “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” from the aboriginal Inuit first nation of Canada and “Kandahar” from Iran both for the first time showing the stories of two unknown worlds to a global audience.  

Zacharias Kunuk, the creator of “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner”, himself of the first nation was born in Kapuivik, one of Canadian arctic island in Nunavut territory of Canada. He attended school in Igloolik, an Inuit hamlet of Nunavut and in order to afford admissions to the movies, carved soapstone sculptures. From his hard work money, he purchased a camera and started taking photos of Inuit hunting scenes. Soon he purchased his first video camera with some basic equipment and taught himself how to make his own films, the first “Nunavut: Our Land” in 1995 before making his masterpiece “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” in 2001. The film in the 2004 edition of top 10 Canadian films of all time by Toronto International Film Festival, was voted the 5th greatest Canadian Film of all time and in the last edition of the list in 2015, was ranked the number one and the greatest Canadian film of all time.

An Arctic Epic:

The winner of Camera d’Or of the Cannes Film Festival and six Genie Awards including the Best Motion Picture became Canada’s top-grossing film of 2002. The first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in the Inuktitut language recites an ancient story of the aboriginals that until the film has been passed down through the centuries of oral tradition. In Igloolik off the Eastern Arctic wilderness at the dawn of the first millennium, the community have been poisoned by a shaman visitor Tungajuaq (Abraham Ulayuruluk) with hatred, infidelity and murders. During a spiritual duel with the shaman, the camp leader Kumaglak (Apayata Kotierk) dies and his leading sign of a walrus-tooth necklace around his neck is taken off and given to his son Sauri (Eugene Ipkarnak) as the new camp leader. The whole camp’s lives stricken by the evil magic of the shaman have been doomed. Tulmaq (Felix Alaralak) has bad luck in hunting and can barely feed his family with his two children, Atanarjuat (Natar Ungalaaq) and Amaqjuaq (Pakak Innuksuk) but Panikpak (Madeline Ivalu) brings meat for his children, hoping that one day their lives will be back normal.

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Atanarjuat grows up to be a fast runner and his brother Amaqjuaq grows to be strong. Atanarjuat pursues the beautiful Atuat (Sylvia Ivalu) provoking jealousy in his rival Oki (Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq). Oki’s sister Puja (Lucy Tulugarjuk) is also attracted to Atanarjuat. In a punching duel with Oki, Atanarjuat wins the right to marry Atuat. Later, Atanarjuat leaves his wife Atuat at a camp to hunt caribou, but he stops at Sauri’s camp where he is persuaded to take Puja on the hunt and when camping by a lake, they have sex. Later on Atanarjuat unhappy in his marriage with Atuat and Puja, catches his brother having sex with Puja and strikes Puja, who flees to Sauri’s camp and lies that Atanarjuat tried to kill her. Sauri and Oki decide to kill Atanarjuat, but since Panikpak is skeptical of Puja’s accusations, she admits to her false accusation and returns to Atanarjuat’s camp apologizing and she is accepted back.

When one day the women are out eggs hunting, Oki and two men sneak up and kill Amaqjuaq sleeping in his tent. Oki is startled by a vision of his grandfather Kumaglak, and Atanarjuat, naked and barefoot bursts out of the tent and runs for miles across the ice, chased by Oki’s gang. Atanarjuat jumps in a wide open crack of the ice and collapses, but rescued by Qulitalik (Pauloosie Qulitalik) the brother of Panikpak and his family, who conceal him when Oki arrives in pursuit. Back at Igloolik, Sauri refuses to let Oki have Atuat, but Oki rapes Atuat, who is comforted by Panikpak. During a hunt, Oki stabs Sauri and claims it was an accident, and takes over as camp leader.

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The Greatest films of all time: 85. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001) (Canada)

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The Greatest films of all time: 84. Amores Perros (2000)/21 Grams (2003)/Babel (2006) (Mexico/USA/Japan)

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Introduction:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of Mexico made the above three films that are considered by some a “Trilogy of Death”, each three years apart. At age 37 in his debut feature, “Amores Perros” he was as a thunder known to the world, specially the western society and Hollywood that invested in his second part of the trilogy, “21 grams” in 2003, employing popular American cast, Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and only a Mexican, Benicio del Toro with a budget of $20 million vs. the meager Mexican budget of $ 2.4 million for Amores Perros, the film made a sales profit 3 times more of $60 million. Then in third part of trilogy “Babel” in 2006 again invested by Hollywood and Japanese with again $20 million budget, starring famous American and Japanese cast, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Koji Yakuso and Rinko Kikuchi, and the only Mexican Gael Garcia Bernal, the film made almost 7 times sales profit of $135 million.    

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Although there is a theme of death in three films of Inarritu’s trilogy, and the first part title in original Mexican is translated as “Love’s a Bitch”, each three parts and the whole trilogy has a more important central theme that is “Life’s a Bitch” or in a better word, “Life is unfair”. So instead of one film, all Innaritu’s trilogy has been included in our list of the greatest films of all time as one film due to this strong philosophical, sociological or psychological theme or an unfortunate fact of life. The three films were put together here also as none alone could reach the greatest level, but all together did. Moreover each of the above three films are in fact a trilogy or three parts or three folded in itself. In Amores Perros, the lives of three couples Octavio and Susana, Daniel and Valeria, & El Chive and Maru are interconnected with a car crash and also a dog. In 21 Grams, again the lives of three characters, Jack, Paul and Cristina are tied together by a hit-and-run car accident and drug addiction. In the final chapter of the trilogy, Babel, Innaritu goes beyond a specific geographical zone and in this time the interlink of the main theme is not just between characters, but different nationalities in Morocco, US/Mexico, and Japan, and between the three couple characters of Susan and Richards, Amelia and Santiago, Chieko and Yasujiro Wataya.

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As alluded to the Innaritu’s trilogy that could be called “Life’s a Bitch” or “Life’s unfair” has a pessimistic but in a way realistic view on life that accident and sudden death happens unfairly to some universally around the world. In certain of these situations, people or victims may interconnect, but even if no there is no physical or personal connection, these kinds of misfortunes are universals and shared by the a common human soul. No filmmakers has depicted this common human theme in his or her work on the screen and Innaritu deserves the three films of his trilogy to be part of the greatest films of all time. While each film alone cannot satisfy the greatest films of all time ranking, due to some shortcomings and loose weaving between the parts in each film, altogether the philosophical or fact of life point attempted by Innaritu over a 6 years period is well taken and respected. In the following each films of Innaritu’s trilogy will be briefly discussed around the main theme of the unfairness of life and in conclusion all three will be weaved together in one common theme as Innaritu aimed to show so.

             

Amores Perros (2000):

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The Greatest films of all time: 84. Amores Perros (2000)/21 Grams (2003)/Babel (2006) (Mexico/USA/Japan)

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