Berlin Diary 1: A miss. And a Shankar movie set in Ireland

Posted on February 16, 2018


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Every year, I tell myself to land up at the Berlin International Film Festival a day before the official opening day, because the press screenings of the opening film (Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, this year) happen in the morning, and the later screenings get sold out very quickly. The Berlinale takes its commitment to the public (the general audience, not those covering the festival or in the market, screening and buying films) very seriously, and these later screenings are open to all. This year, too, I landed late afternoon and missed Isle of Dogs, like I missed Hail, Caesar! a couple of years ago. Damn! To make matters worse, I’ve come down with a runny nose, and the woman in the next seat at the Black 47 screening turned to me, mid-movie, and said, “Do you have a handkerchief? Can you blow your nose? It’s really irritating.” Well, look at the bright side. It can only get better, right?


The next press screening was for Black 47, directed by Lance Daly, and set during the Great Famine that ravaged Ireland for two long years. The protagonist is Martin (James Frecheville), an Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, and has now deserted his post to return to his family. The horrors that lie ahead are crystallised in a knockout visual: Martin’s black steed ambles into the frame, as we see a half-submerged skull in an icy puddle. You may say the visual makes its point a little too… pointedly, and that this sort of Symbolism is no longer “cool.” But it works because the film is itself old-fashioned, not just in the Western sense but in terms of Indian cinema, specifically Tamil cinema.

Continued at the link above.

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Posted in: Cinema: Foreign