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Hundred Favorite Films Forever
|by P. G. R. Nair|
Understanding and appreciating any form of art - may it be Literature, Classical Dance, Painting or Classical music- requires certain amount of mental preparation, some pruning of the soul and genuine devotion on the part of the individual seeking it. Learning to understand and appreciate good cinema is no different. In fact, film appreciation demands keener faculties and a better unification of our sensibilities as the medium is complex. The process of evolution of a film as a fine product necessitates the optimal and chaste utilization of the quintuplet, viz man, machine, materials, money and management. The man who conceives, controls, coordinates and consummates each and every scene in a film is often the director and thus his artistic imagination, creativity and versatility are vital to the quality of the product. "Film making is a close relation to dreams", so said the maestro Federico Fellini. "As it miraculously fixes its images, symbolic building blocks of reality, it becomes instant 'memory'. When this 'memory' finds the poetics it needs to express itself as an art form, it becomes 'remembrance', the poetic memory of a past transformed into an eternal, ritual present"
Cinema as an art form is just as significant and profound as painting or music. Art exists to stimulate its audience, to provoke thought and stir them to consider what a person believes and why he believes it. It exists to create a reaction in a person, and to make its audience into less of a watcher and more of a participant. One of the important features of film in the cinema, as distinct from novels or plays, or even films on television, is that it is inescapable. It may not move us ‘‘more grandly or deeply’’ than other arts. But it does get to us ‘‘more quickly and surely.’’ When two screen lovers kiss, in any film, that kiss has a minimum inescapability which is stronger than in other arts, both as visual fact and emotional symbol.
Perhaps the renowned Russian director Andre Tarkovsky has underscored the power of this medium over other arts in his book 'Sculpting in time'-
It must also be said that no other media stage has stimulated as much artistic creativity and freedom to experiment as has cinema.
With the above thoughts, let me now come to the list of hundred films that I consider as my favorites. All similar lists reflect an element of bias that has its base in one's tastes and predilections. Mine too is no different. For example, I have hardly any interest in horror movies, science fiction, cheap comedies or silly romance and that explains the absence of such movies from my list. I love films that are intellectually stimulating, smack of originality in its theme and style, rouse imagination, contain layers of meaning or multiple levels of understanding, portray a new reality, make strong statements about human condition, provide profound emotional understanding of our life and times and echo spiritual qualities that ennoble life. I believe that in all good films, there is always a directness that entirely frees us from the itch to interpret.
Thus, if a film matches the above artistic aspirations, it is likely to become my favorite. At the same time I am not a judge to proclaim that the below listed films are the greatest films in the history of cinema. That is why I merely wish to call them as my favorites.You may argue that all such lists are propagandistic and reductive. This is true to a certain extent. But I love the whimsical nature of lists and I love its elements of subjectivity and objectivity. That explains the ethos of this one too. I know everyone has his own canons to measure. After all, there is no last word in art.
In the articles that will follow, I will throw more light on the films listed above so that readers will get better perception about what these films strive to convey. I hope the experience you gain out of watching these films will heighten your curiosity and open a world beyond what the commercial celluloid offers. It will make a decisive change in your insight about films and help you to realize that no other art form has the capacity to hold up a mirror to the contemporary psyche as has cinema. As the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman rightly said, "No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls."
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