By Arun Rahim
To be frank, the first time I saw this movie I felt it was a bit of a drag. But this was in stark contrast to the second time I saw it. For me, a perfect movie is one with a great storyline, a well written script, characters that fit the role and handy camera work. Giuseppe Tornatore is one director who can get all of this right. What amazes me most is the way in which he discusses important matters of life in a simplified manner laden with humor. Even when Alfredo tells Toto to get out of town by cheating him and after 30 years when Toto abuses Alfredo after he realized that he had tricked him, there is a slight humor element to it. I somehow think this is just what Tornatore wants all of us to know. That life is a tough game and it should always be taken with a tinge of humor.
Tornatore has used a good number of characters in the movie who have brilliantly brought the screen to life. Each has a story of its own and although Toto is the central character I couldn’t’ cease to wonder what the other characters were about. Toto’s mother and her fight against reality, the regular movie goers in the hall, the prostitute in the cinema hall and even Alfredo’s wife are all so nicely portrayed in this movie, that it is a like a well cooked up Indian curry that has got all the spices in the right proportion. In spite of the humor, it is tough to not feel sad about Toto as he is. The naughty but intelligent Toto had a lot of promise in him as a child and I felt that only Alfredo was able to spot this. His promise turned out to be the undoing for his love life as Alfredo wanted to see him realize his full potential. Again I just cannot but imagine how things would have turned out if he his life hadn’t been diverted by Alfredo. Constraints and optimization is what comes to my mind now. Alfredo analyzed the constraints that Toto had, but forgot about the time period Toto lived in. He probably did not want Toto to end up as a slave to the projector and in his mind did what was the best for Toto. But as in real life rarely do plans go your way.
On the whole I think this is another must watch movie for any cinemaphile and certainly one which arouses a whole range of emotions in you.