David Lean – “Nothing is Written”

Sir David Lean (1908 - 1991) Source: mptvimages.com

David Lean is one of the greatest film directors of all time. His works included films like Great Expectations (1946) and Doctor Zhivago (1965). He won two Academy Awards for Best Director for his most famous and admired movies The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962), considered among the best motion pictures of all time.  He received the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1990.

His work inspires many of the important directors of our times, especially Steven Spielberg, who once said that he always visited a David Lean movie before making a film himself after he had the honor of having a director’s commentary session with Lean on Lawrence of Arabia.

For further details, check his filmography at the IMDB.

 

A glimpse of how he perceived filmmaking.

I think people remember pictures not dialogue. That’s why I like pictures.

Film is a dramatized reality and it is the director’s job to make it appear real… an audience should not be conscious of technique.

Always cast against the part and it won’t be boring.

I wouldn’t take the advice of a lot of so-called critics on how to shoot a close-up of a teapot.

I like making films about characters I’d like to have dinner with.

 

On the birthday of the master British filmmaker, one of the most important lessons to learn from one of his most famous works Lawrence of Arabia (1962), an epic based on the life of T. E. Lawrence, a British soldier and writer who played a great part in changing the face of World War I for the British and Allies on the Arabian Front against Turkey.

Nothing is Written.

Advertisements

Cyber-Bullying Institutionalized & Published

According to one of my twitter friends, the social media have brought out the assholes in everyone. Cyber-bullying has become a phenomenon in the age of social networking, but it was taken to the next level with the case of a young man in an Imran Khan protest rally talking about the conduct of the police and the difficulties he faced in the rally. The video which has become the object of ridicule on twitter, facebook and other social media, unfortunately, was either leaked or aired from a private Pakistani TV channel, and I’m sure the experience must have been traumatic to the person in the video.

While everyone shared the video to their personal audience, something odd caught my eye yesterday. The correspondent of the New York Times in Pakistan, who apparently had run out of topics to write about, had all the time in the world to write about the video and use it to prove how ridiculous was Imran Khan’s cause. Of course, it was an important event in the history of AfPak. Even a few of well-known Pakistani journalists were sharing the link and cracking jokes on it.

While I disagree with Imran Khan and his supporters as far as their so-called revolution is concerned too,  but this had certainly gone too far, simply out of political opposition and hatred, which goes to show the kind of journalism that is being practised.

The New York Times blog post, along with the video broadcasted from Pakistani channels,  institutionalized the cyber-bullying and since it was against the PTI and published in an American publication, it was OK by the standards of the so-called liberal journalists in Pakistan. But what to say about Pakistani journalists, who were of course the source of the video anyway. To make matters worse, the Honorable Pakistani Ambassador to the United States made it official by tweeting the post.

Yes, nothing wrong with sharing the link, and let us not expect any sane behavior from the general public including myself. Well everyone needs a good laugh, isn’t it? But institutions need to be more responsible than individuals and the public, Pakistani channels included, especially the Honorable Ambassador. Isn’t it?

Hilarious.

It’s a lesson to everyone that you should think twice before talking to the press.

I shared the link on social networking as well and rather feel ashamed and disgusted at myself, though the idea was not to ridicule but to show how much people know about a revolution. But that is when the cause is lost and you invade someone’s privacy and become the culprit yourself. The intention of other people and journalists sharing it would have been the same, except for those cracking jokes on him, but making his comments a point to discuss on publications, …well you decide.

I apologize to the person in the video and have learned my lesson in cyber-bullying.  Also learned my lesson in how the press works.

While this post would only propagate the video further, it would also hopefully offer the side of the picture that very few are presenting, so I thought that writing about is alright after all. Comments are welcome.

The point to ponder, which goes for myself too, is:

There is no point in laughing at the political ideas of kids. They are only learning.

But guess what, adults need to learn too.

The Lessons to Learn from Einstein

 

"Fools!"

My last post was about Stanley Kubrick and he had something in common with Albert Einstein, whose brain must be celebrating his 132nd birthday. I am saying that because both of them had very little formal education, a University degree, if you will, and went on to become really admired and acclaimed figures in their respective fields. While you could work that way if you are to become a film director, it is always more difficult for a scientist-to-be.

Of course, the scientific world would not really offer weight to the opinions and the crazy ideas of a young man out of a clerical office who suddenly was teaching the world with chalk in hand.

He was teaching the teachers, and it seemed horrifying to a lot of people.

But at a very interesting and turbulent point in history, Albert Einstein changed the way we thought about the Universe forever. Well, the view is still evolving of course, but he started it in a way. Of course, there were others too.

But what are the lessons to learn from Einstein, without boring you talking about Relativity. While he will always remain to be the incarnation of human intelligence and inspiration on an individual level, but he must also inspire scientists to work the same way as he used to do. While of course, it is important to keep into consideration the existing theory as a part of the Scientific and Research Method, it is important not to get too much tied by it and give up on the margin of creative reasoning or “thinking outside the box”.

Researchers in universities at times seem to be too lost in the existing and accepted practices. A kind of bureaucratization of knowledge is prevalent in educational institutes, which could seriously affect the progress towards attaining more knowledge, which is the better understanding of the Universe and the laws that govern it, especially the ones which we have not been discovered yet. It does take a little bit of creativity to carry out the Thought Experiments needed to even have a little idea about something as apparently obnoxious as Relativity.

I hope science would some day learn more from Einstein than just Photoelectric Effect and Relativity.

I don’t really have a license to speak about science or about anything for that matter, but that’s how I feel about it.

And I know, they need a mathematical proof.

Maybe, some day science would be able to explain Albert Einstein.

 

P. S. I still have not found the answer to what surrounds the Universe, or the matter that makes up the Universe, if the question seems that crazy to you.

The Vision of Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999)

On the 1(∞)2th death anniversary of Stanley Kubrick, let us revisit the vision of the great director. While to a lot of people, Kubrick’s productions are boring and slow, some of them completely miss what those movies are about. Very few of films made by Kubrick received a favorable critical response right away anyway (only to be reconsidered later), yet he was one of the most independent of the filmmakers in the history of cinema who never compromised on his art ever since he directed Spartacus (1960), and he was way ahead of his time.

Like all great directors, such as Luis Buñuel and Ingmar Bergman, Kubrick had a central idea or theme in his mind which he used to convey through his movies. Probably the most important theme of the films made by Stanley Kubrick was humanity itself, and I think the philosophical side of his work is one of the reasons why he is considered such a great director, apart from its majestic cinematic value, and the idea was that humans were being destroyed by their own intelligence, or lack of enough intelligence.

These movies point out how the human failure to collaborate and cooperate with each other could potentially lead to the consequent premature demise of the species. Kubrick questioned our humanity and morality in Paths of Glory (1957), Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Barry Lyndon (1975)Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and most of all in A Clockwork Orange (1971). As a matter of fact, all his movies, with some of the others made earlier like Fear and Desire (1953) also explore this theme, and his films he never made like Steven Spielberg‘s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Aryan Papers and Napoleon are the extensions of this theme.

 

HAL9000 Computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Kubrick produced some of the most memorable images in the history of cinema, but as much as they stuck to the memory of the viewer, they also appealed them to reflect on the deeper meaning behind those images. According to some film reviewers, Kubrick was a master of encoding symbols into his movies reflective of the theme, and the background contributed as much to the feel he created in a story as did the intense characters and their faces. Even that of HAL, which was probably the most important character of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a landmark in the history of cinema, or maybe the human history itself.

Some of the best moments from Stanley Kubrick’s movies that make you think.

SPOILER ALERT: Only for those who have already had the pleasure of watching his movies. For everyone else, watching these masterpieces is highly recommended. You can start by visiting his filmography.

The connoisseurs could use the following links.

Stanley Kubrick – The Living Memory

Kubrick Multimedia Film Guide

The Kubrick FAQ

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Dr.  Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Bomb (1964)

 

Shahbaz Bhatti – Another Martyr for Sanity

Shahbaz Bhatti (1968 - 2011) - Source: AFP

To some people the fact that the Pakistani Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated on March 3, was not a surprise after what happened to the late Governor Salmaan Taseer, but it is yet a huge and shocking tragedy. The pamphlets that were left behind at the site of crime were from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab, the Punjabi wing of Taliban, which read that death was the only punishment for blasphemers of the Holy Prophet. This terrorist organization also accepted the responsibility for his assassination.

This is kind of confusing because Shahbaz Bhatti was not a blasphemer. But anyway, how many times have people discussed that. Some of the people also think that there is an international conspiracy behind his murder to defame Paksitan’s name (as if we need their help), but for the sake of argument, let us also consider that possibility.

But the question to ask, again, is what Pakistanis are doing themselves? What the religious leaders in Pakistan, and the silent moderate Muslim majority of the country fail to understand completely is that just stating that Islam is a faith that takes care of the security and rights of the minorities is not enough. The whole world can clearly see that it is not the case, since the recent protests against the proposed bill to amend the Blasphemy Law involved clerics openly calling for death of the people criticizing the law publicly.

Imagine what would have been going through the minds of every non-Muslim in Pakistan when he or she would have seen the Minister responsible for their affairs slain brutally by terrorists, which are harbored and sympathized by many within Pakistan. Even if foreign intervention is involved, it could play no more than, say 10%, of the part, as all the acts of terrorism are carried out by local terrorist groups, most of them religious in nature.

The lesson to learn from the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, who is yet another Martyr for Sanity in an insane country, is that we need to get our textbook right. Shahbaz Bhatti is the kind of Pakistanis we need at a time when religious fanaticism is on the rise ever since this menace grew out of all proportions in the dark reign of the military dictator General Zia ul Haq, who used his influence to force so-called Islamic laws on the country for his own political ends. He was the very same man in whose rule the Blasphemy Law found its current shape.

I am often asked by my close friends about what good would the secular amendments in the constitution do. It is simple. The people of other faith or that of no faith at all are not concerned even a bit about what your religion has to say about them, neither should they be entitled to even listen to, let alone the idea of complying with, the rules that you set according to your religion about them. That is the most absurd idea ever, and unfortunately, this is what has been happening in Pakistan.

You need to offer a common ground for every citizen in the state in a Secular constitution, so that each and every citizen, regardless of religion, sect, language, ethnicity or caste would be able to relate to it. That is the only way in which not even a single person will be considered left out. A communal constitution will always make minorities, and I hate this word by the way, think at the back of their minds all the time that they are not accepted in the country, no matter how many stories you tell them about the way some Muslim rulers had treated the minorities in their time. It is just not good enough.

Shahbaz Bhatti is a great loss for Pakistan because he was a sane voice and was bravely and openly defending the rights of the minorities. Unfortunately, he fell like Salman Taseer as well, among some of the few voices openly questioning the Draconian Blasphemy Law. While the PPP workers would mourn the loss of another comrade, they should be mourning even more that these heroes were not supported by the party leadership as they should have been. At least, they should have owned their efforts which are changing Pakistan right now.

While the minorities in Pakistan in general, and the Christian community in particular, would have felt that their voice has been silenced in Shahbaz Bhatti, there is still time for Pakistani political and religious leadership to concentrate towards building an egalitarian and tolerant society instead of one dominated by a particular community. The bureaucratic and military establishment should support them by all means possible for carrying this out, and let there be intolerance towards intolerance. Besides, they have been equally active in creating this mess during the Zia regime anyway.

I am not claiming I know all the solutions to this complex problem, but let us make a start. If all Pakistanis are united to prevent incidents like the assassination of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, there is no force in the world which could cause another national tragedy.

 

For now, Pakistan salutes Shahbaz Bhatti, a national hero.