Saturday, August 4, 2007
Post #1 of the Post Off: Movie Review
When Lacy was here last week she recommended to me the movie Water by Deepa Mehta. I was excited to see it as I put great stock in her artistic judgments and opinions. I was not disappointed. Oh. My. What a beautiful, moving and deeply profound film. This is an Indian film with English subtitles, but don’t be scared off.
Water is definitely not a fluff film. It goes without saying I love films (books, and conversations too) that make you think or question and introspect. And this one does.
Water is about the sorry plight of Hindu widows in traditional India. It’s a film with a message but it’s not really political as it explores faith and ancient oppressive practices, and self-interest.
As explained in the film, according to ancient texts a Hindu widow had three choices; she could join her husband on his funeral pyre, she could marry his younger brother (ick!) or she could go into an Ashram (refuge) with other widows and live a life of self-denial to atone for the sin of having lost her husband. It is the third option Chuyia takes on the death of her husband in 1938. Chuyia however is only like eight or nine years old and barely remembers getting married.
The Ashram is a poor place, self-supported by the proceeds of begging and prostitution, but there is camaraderie amongst the women (who are of all ages) and Chuyia, initially, is not badly treated. The focus shifts to Kalyani the Ashram's "jewel" who becomes involved with a young political activist Narayana, a supporter of Gandhi.
I did not find this film so much an attack on religion as on particular beliefs.There was much controversy surrounding this film as the writer/director was prevented from filming in India by some Hindu fundamentalists and "Water" was eventually filmed in Sri Lanka.
This film speaks to using the practices of a society which has long passed away to defend an economic interest, or rather to excuse the abandonment by her family of a woman who has had the bad luck to lose her husband. As Chuyia asks, where is the Ashram for the widowers? Also, whatever could be said for child marriage on social or economic grounds 2000 years ago, there is no possible justification for it now.
The film as I understand it was/is banned in India and Pakistan which is so sad, as it is not easy to forget. The cinematography is incredibly beautiful, kind of reminds me of House of Flying Daggers.
I loved this film so much that I am recommending it for our BM Club. I own a copy. You can borrow it. See it. Let’s discuss.