Knowing the plot can help you enjoy and experience a movie in a far richer way

Posted on October 24, 2019


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Oliver Laxe is at the Jio MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival with Star, with O Que Arde (Fire Will Come). The Spanish drama premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year, and it won the Jury Prize. This is exactly how the film was described in the synopsis on the Cannes web site. “When Amador Coro gets out of prison for having provoked a fire, nobody is waiting for him. He returns to his home town, a small village hidden in the mountains of rural Galicia, to live with his elder mother, Benedicta, and three cows. Life goes on calmly, following the rhythm of the nature. Until the night when a fire devastates the region.” Now, you may have some quibbles with the English (which was corrected in the MAMI brochure; for instance “home town” is now “hometown”), but you come away with a sense of the film, which is the whole point of a synopsis.

Now, consider the synopsis of Nitin Bhaskar’s Konkani drama, Kaajro (Bitter Tree), which played in the India Story section at MAMI: “Tilgya belongs to an untouchable caste. His ailing wife dies just as his village is celebrating the annual festival of Dussehra, marking the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana, of good over evil. Debarred from participating in the festival procession, Tilgya is forced to leave the village with his dead wife’s body.” This is the entire story of the film. Now, why would a filmmaker give away the ending? One reason could be that this movie is less about what happens than how. The whole film is shot in one take — it’s a stunning technical feat. That’s easily its most impressive aspect. The characters and the interactions between them fade in comparison.

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