Sunday, February 26, 2012


It's Oscar night. In a few hours, the glamour and glitterati of the Hollywood industry will walk the red carpet to participate in the biggest annual event celebrating cinema. As many of my friends know, I am a huge movie buff. Not unexpectedly, I have seen many of the Oscar contenders of this year's Best Picture Award. I loved all these movies. I loved them not so much because they were good entertainers, although most of them are, but because they provide important insights into human psychology and creativity. In the next series of posts, I plan to discuss the things I admired and learnt from this year's Oscar nominated movies. I'll start with Martin Scorcese's Hugo.

I absolutely loved Hugo. I have always been a big fan of the master filmmaker, Martin Scorcese. Most of his well known films explore darker themes. It was refreshing to see him handle a children's movie with equal panache. Hugo is, of course, a very entertaining movie that will appeal people from all ages. However, what I liked most about the movie was the ingenious way it interweaves a beautiful story with history lessons about a pioneer filmmaker of early cinema, George Melies. I had never heard of Melies before I watched Hugo. It's through Hugo that I learnt that Melies was a brilliant innovator who innovated many cool special effects way back in the 1890s and 1900s that we now take for granted in modern movies. I found it very interesting that Melies was originally a magician. Is it any wonder that he pioneered many special effect techniques in cinema? If he had been another theater personality, like many movie makers are, such innovations wouldn't have materialized, or at least, would have been delayed by several decades. To me, the life of Melies illustrates that being an odd man in any field, instead of being a handicap, can be a strength that proliferates creativity and innovation.

The second biggest thing that I admired about Hugo was the theme around clocks. This is such a powerful  imagery for the life story of Melies. Many of Melies' movies were thought to be lost forever during the First World War but were later recovered. Melies himself went into complete obscurity and lived for many years managing a small toy store at a railway station, before some journalists revived interest in his work among the public, and he got back the recognition that he deserved. This shows that time is all powerful. Time has the power to catapult us to unimaginable fame, and it also has the completely obliterate us. Time, that way, is one of the subtlest but most powerful forces in this world. As the poet Sahir Ludhianvi had expressed it so beautifully, Waqt se din aur raat, waqt se kal aur aaj, waqt ki har shai Gulaam, waqt ka har shai pe raaj...


  1. "If I could take time in a bottle"

    1. Thank you so much, Ma'am!
      It's such a lovely song! I have gone completely crazy after listening to this song.