quarta-feira, 24 de julho de 2013

BHAAG MILKHA BHAAG or how I rediscovered the magic of cinema

If we can say that India found itself as a nation in cinema I can say that in an Indian movie theater I reconnected myself with cinema. It was cinema as a cathartic and sacred experience, like the one everybody seeks when buying a ticket, a ticket to dream. Unfortunately the Hollywood excesses have long lost their magic touch. I’m glad I was able to dream again and rediscover the magic of cinema in a Bollywood movie.

My love for the Musical Genre is well known since it was the subject of my Master Degree in Cinema. That is why I was excited, after almost seven months in Singapore, to finally see an original Bollywood movie in a big screen. That is something that I never had access before in Brazil, considering that those productions don’t reach our internal market. It was my friend Nagaraju who, after listen to my constant requests took me to see “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” (Run Milkha Run).

Everything regarding the experience was new, a discovery. The theater was crowd, we were at the Screens of Bombay Talkies and practically all the audience was Indian. I was curious and that curiosity wake-up my senses and made me pay more attention to my surroundings than usual. Instead of the traditional smell of popcorn and butter there was an interesting mix of musky, tea and popcorn smells in the air.

The line was huge and chaotic, people were everywhere talking and moving around. I could not really see where to go, so I just follow the flow to the theater. When I entered the room I discovered an interesting acoustic solution in the walls with a lilac fabric pinned and folded in a beautiful way. Our seats were perfect, right in the middle/middle of the cinema. The audience was energetic and there was vibrancy in the air.

Until the movie didn’t started I enjoyed seeing the shadows of the people projected in the screen while they passed in front of the movie projector. That added a magic atmosphere to the moment, especially when children discovered their shadows in the big screen and started to jump and move around playing with big images of themselves. Women wearing colorful saris completed the atmosphere.

I had impression that when Indians gather in front of a big screen something special happens and becomes easy to understand why cinema is such an important industry in their country and even why Western movies don’t make much success in their internal market. To go to the movies is a moment to dream and to share the same dream. Without really knowing I was escaping from the reality to live intense emotions for the next three hours. Sooner I would find myself in that dark room sharing and cheering my hopes and dreams for India, along with Milkha Singh and dozens of Indians.

The trailers started but the lights of the room were still on and people continued to enter and talk, but I was assured that they would be quiet as soon as the movie starts. Surprisingly I didn’t care. Everything looked so new and amusing that I was already enjoying the experience. Maybe that is the difference of being in a place where people honors cinema, of knowing that everybody there wanted the same thing: to be entertained and achieve through that entertainment a feeling of fulfillment. It was way different from the movie theaters in Brazil that are usually full of bad behavior teenagers that make noise just for the fun of disturb others.

The movie starts. It was inspired by the real life of Milkha Singh, the Indian athlete, 400m runner known as “The Flying Sikh”. He’s life is a story of persistence and overcome. I found myself cheering for him, screaming, crying, laughing, singing and almost dancing (I must admit). My attention was really kept during the entire time. It was a roller coaster of emotions and that is why I am not going to analyze the movie here. You have to live the experience and I hope you will also have that chance. What is important to emphasize is that, more than anything, the movie was a story well told without the excesses of Hollywood, without appealing to sex and preposterous special effects. The experience itself was what affected me the most. It was almost like going to the cinema for the first time. I was able to rediscover cinema and remember why I love it so much.

Thank you Naga! 

terça-feira, 7 de maio de 2013

Open letter to Ray Harryhausen

Dear Mr Harryhausen,

May I call you Ray? After growing up watching your movies and dreaming about become an animator I consider you as a member of my family, my cool uncle Ray, my Godfather. It may sound presumptions but is part of the fantasy.

I have just received the news that you passed away, and I can’t avoid crying. That’s why I wrote you this letter. I know we are all humans and that death is the only certitude we have in life, but is only when it really comes that we are remembered of that tragical fate. 

As I wrote to you once, my favorite of your movies is Clash of the Titans. I watched it so many times when I was a kid that I knew all the lines. There is something special about that movie, the greek mythology biding together the animated creatures and live-action. Later on I went to the Fine Arts School eager to learn animation and it was there that I was able to study you and know all your films. You became my master, my role model, my inspiration and the reason I discovered and love stop-motion animation.

Imagine my excitement when my Professor, Heitor Capuzzo, told me that he was going to interview you and asked us to send some questions that we would like to make to you. For a Brazilian student, it was more than I could possibly dream. But I didn’t have anything to ask you, instead I decided to write you a letter thanking you for making your films, and for making me dream through them. I didn’t thought my letter would find its way to you. It was so emotional and personal, like this one, that I thought my Professor would never deliver it to you.

Imagine my surprise when Professor Capuzzo cameback from the United States and he told me he had printed the letter and delivered it to you in person. I was in shock and glad at the same time. My english was much worse than today and I couldn’t believed that my written words have reached you. But more was yet to come.

Three months later, I was working in the lab at the University when I received a letter. The envelope was addressed like that: 
Christine Veras
Student of Cinema and Animation
at the Federal University of Minas
Gerais, Belo Horizonte
South America

I couldn't imagine who could possibly send me a letter like that, without real address or zipcode. Somehow the letter arrived at the President’s office and they send it to the School of Fine Arts, where I received it. When I took the letter in my hands and turn the envelope to check the sender I saw the label Harryhausen. I start shaking, crying and laughing and I couldn’t open the letter right away. My colleagues didn’t understood what was happening until I show them the envelope.

It was a delightful letter from you, Mr. Ray Harryhausen, thanking me for my “enthusiastic and kind letter” delivered to you while in Los Angeles. I couldn’t believe. That letter is a precious treasure that I kept framed for so many years, like my dream of doing animation. Now, after I finally decided to take action and invest my future in animation by doing a PhD research on it, that letter travelled with me to remember me constantly why am I here. I am trying to live the dream inspired by your films, as you were once inspired by King Kong. That changed it all...

You certainly lived a great life and inspired so many generations. I just want to say that for me you didn’t died today you just went to Mount Olympus to take your place near the gods. I hope you will have fun watching was from above...

Thank you for everything, Ray!