{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Monday, July 18, 2005

Those Characters...

I have always wondered which characters would appeal people, the characters who are like them or the characters who are unlike them or some mathematical mix of both or in a cliched sense, those characters whom they are able to relate to. On a different note, when will Kafka be delighted, if someone is inspired by him or if someone will resonate with same emotions after reading a piece that Kafka felt while writing it. Kafka will better die than give any inspiration. I always remember one of my friends comment, "I hated that novel, I almost felt like I have murdered someone !", after reading Crime and Punishment. What more appreciation Dostoevski will ask for, more than his readers becoming his characters. So its a matter of resonance, these waves do require a medium to hit you, but this medium is a matter of your choice, and its what we call Art. Coming back to my chosen medium, films, and the appealing characters we started with. I have chosen three characters which I really like and resonate with feeling of the masters who created them, at least to some extent.

3. Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley, American Beauty): Ricky is a young drug-dealing boy next door who see beauty in seemingly petty things. American Beauty is one of my favorite film which to some extent explores the meanings of beauty and ugliness, tearing off the everyday farce of out lives. Ricky is rather a strong character of all in the movie, which might not have gone to my liking but as the movie progresses, we see lot of beauty through his eyes, the beauty as he sees it, the uncommon beauty in common things. He finds happiness in recording these beautiful things on his camcorder. What I always wondered about beauty are two things, its fleetingness and its unattainability. Beauty looks like a concept and it has generated lots of discomfort in me lately. May be 'my' beauty lies only in dreams and fantasies. Real world is not good enough to be beautiful. Ricky do something to seize the overwhelming beauty of real world , although a bit figuratively, he records this subjective surreal beauty on his tape.

RICKY FITTS: Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.

2. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro, Taxi driver): Travis Bickle is a character which intrigues you to the core and at the same time amazes you with its simplicity and commonness. Travis is a 26 year old, ex-marine who drives Taxi at night to fight insomnia, disillusioned by the norms of the society, is a lonely man. As I started to see Taxi Driver, Travis seemed to me shallow, naive and just like any other young guy as he gets attracted to smart-and-beautiful Betsy and stupidly takes her to a porn movie on their first date. But as the movie progresses we see Travis more clearly, we start understanding the misunderstood Travis and the intent of his actions and above all his loneliness. Robert De Niro gives a mindblowing performance as disturbed Travis result of a much more disturbed society.

Travis Bickle: Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man.

1. Cabiria (Giulietta Masina, Nights of Cabiria): Cabiria is infinitely dear character to me. When I saw Nights of Cabiria, I was amazed by Masina's tragi-comic performance, her character and master Fellini. The last reels of Nights of Cabiria are the best 15 minutes you can ever see on celluloid. Cabiria is a naive prostitute, wandering on the road of Rome, in search of love, one who goes to shrine holding candles in search of some answers, one who bares her deepest desires when hypnotized. Cabiria, who trusts people easily, who is betrayed and robbed again and again, one who is afraid of what will became of her, seeking meaning to her existence, but one who is hopeful of things to come. Something happened in the final moments of Nights of Cabiria that made me feel hopeful in the honest and unassuming way. This is what we can call a true testimonial of hope that is all real and that comes from the unflinching nature of human spirit but not from some phony crap. Cabiria is such a heart-breakingly real character, Fellini's most human and fragile creation. Fellini has gone on record to say that of all his characters, he worries about Cabiria the most. I feel the same.

Cabiria : Kill me! I don't want to live any more!


Alok said...

Great post!!

And where did you get that still picture from Cabiria...? it's truly unforgettable.

anurag said...

Thanks !

I searched madly for this image yesterday. Got it here.

There are other great stills of Cabiria at this site. You can see lot of posters of 'Nights of Cabiria' too here.

Stacy Elaine said...

hello. i just wanted to say i really like your character studies. one of my friends puts out an underground film zine here in Los Angeles called Nathan Jr. if you're interested, i could send you more info.

Stacy Elaine said...

What is in NATHAN JR?

In this issue of Nathan Jr. (a monthly film discussion), we find many interesting articles such as . . .

"Ferris Bueller, You're My Hero: A Refutation of Hughesian Dualism" by Richard Froude

"Robert Rodriguez: Boy Wonder" by Larry Bigs

"Overrated Underrated" by Bess Houston, Anne Rieman, John Postako, Jeanie Miller, John Rieman, Monty Iceman, Garrison Taylor, Perc Westmore, R.J. Perez, Greg Rodgers

"Not Just a Vin Diesel Vehicle: The Pacifier as Propaganda" by Jeanie Miller

"A Two-Fisted Review of Sin City" by Monty Iceman and Lora Hart

"Palindromes" reviewed by Anne Rieman

"The Interpreter" reviewed by C.T. Oyster

"Winter Solstice" reviewed by Larry Bigs

Stacy Elaine said...

see what a past issue looks like and how to contact the editor:


Stacy Elaine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anurag said...

Thanks a lot, Stacy.

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