Monday, June 21, 2004

1900 and the genius called Tornatore

Watched Guiseppe Tornatore's "Legend of 1900" last night. One word: "stupefying". Tim Roth is engaging.  The story makes one laugh, then cry, as with his other films, "Cinema Paradiso" and "Malena". I think one vast difference between Hollywood trash and Italian/European films is that the latter takes you through the "real" life more than the "reel". The endings are often sad, and not the way most audiences fed on "they live happily ever after" endings will like it. But such is life, we don't often get what we want. We're torn with making choices, often making the wrong ones. But I digress.

Back to the movie, I somehow understand 1900's refusal to set foot on land, more solid it seems than the ocean. He says people on land perpetually chase the summer, looking forward to winter, then dreading it, chasing summer anew. At least on sea, one is always off to some place where it's summer. The story's premise, about a man born on a ship, and all though his life lived on the sea, never setting foot on dry land is magnificent and dumbfounding. In the scheme of everyday things, it makes you think that hey, this is just plain automatic for us landpeople to be accounted for once born in this world. 1900 is a person with a number for a name, no identity, non-existent, belonging to everywhere and nowhere, with no city nor province to call his own, and as far as the rest of the world is concerned, is a non-entity. I relate to it in a way that I sometimes find myself a nobody, removed from my family and relations, adrift in a sea of other nobodies. I also relate to the great friendship of roth & max(?); one can never really go through life without a great friend. At the end of the day, I fall back on one, two or three friends I've always known; they're my anchors even as an ocean of "so-called friends" have come and gone.

I used to call a former boss a cultural snob for foisting this love for Italian films on us underlings. I think I owe him a big apology. Constant exposure to a lot of other films outside of the Hollywood machine made me realize there's a big wide world out there that doesn't just inject, subliminal or otherwise, ideas of American superiority in their films. From Fellini to Tornatore, Kurosawa to Almodovar, the world isn't just about Hollywood.


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