Limitless Cinema in Broken English

March 12, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 9:26 pm


(This post is about a poll in my other blog: )
My fourteenth poll is inspired by A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL (2005, Raya Martin, A+), which I saw last month. It’s a very strange film which I hardly understand, though I am totally fascinated by it. It seems to show the lives of some Filipinos during the colonial era. The film doesn’t waste time to tell anything you can read from a history book, so that’s partly the reason why I, who have no knowledge about history, let alone Philippines’ history, don’t understand it, but I still like the film’s approach to history very much.

A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL has so many memorable scenes, one of which is the scene in which some children kill a priest by drowning him. I don’t know if this scene represents the anger towards religious institution or the Spanish rule, but it is a very powerful scene, nevertheless.

After seeing A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL which deals with the colonial era, I realize that I have seen very few films which deal with this period in history. I try to make a list of films in this category which I have seen. Here is the result:


1.THE BEWITCHING BRAID (1996, Yuanyuan Cai, Macau)

2.CLEAN SLATE (1981, Bertrand Tavernier, France)

3.COBRA VERDE (1987, Werner Herzog, Ghana/West Germany)

4.DROPS OF LIGHT (2002, Fernando Vendrell, Portugal/Mozambique)

5.THE FANTASTIC PLANET (1973, Rene Laloux, Czechoslovakia/France)
This films deals with the colonial era on another planet. Hahaha.

6.GANDHI (1982, Richard Attenborough, UK/India)

7.THE LAST COMMUNIST (2006, Amir Muhammad, Malaysia)
Some parts of this film are about the time when Malaysia was under the British rule, but other parts are about the time when Malaysia became independent.

8.THE LOVER (1992, Jean-Jacques Annaud, France/Vietnam)

9.THE MISSION (1986, Roland Joffe, UK)

10.THE MURMURING COAST (2004, Margarida Cardoso, Portugal)

11.NED KELLY (2003, Gregor Jordan, Australia)

12.NEVER SHALL WE BE ENSLAVED (1997, Kyi Soe Tun, Myanmar)

13.NOWHERE IN AFRICA (2001, Caroline Link, Germany)

14.QUEENIE (1987, Larry Peerce, USA, 233 min)
This is a miniseries which may have no artistic value, but my friends and I think it is very entertaining when we saw it as teenagers.

15.RIZAL IN DAPITAN (1997, Tikoy Aguiluz, Philippines)

16.A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL (2005, Raya Martin, Philippines)
Oggs Cruz wrote a review on this film in the link below:

17.THE SIAM RENAISSANCE (2004, Surapong Pinijkhar, Thailand)
Thailand faced a colonial threat in this film.

18.UTU (1983, Geoff Murphy, New Zealand)

19.VICTOR SCHOELSCHER, L’ABOLITION (1998, Paul Vecchiali, France)

20.WHITE MISCHIEF (1987, Michael Radford, UK)

You can cast multiple votes.

Since I have no knowledge about history or politics, I apologize in advance if I misunderstand anything about the colonial era.

–Apart from stories about the colonial era, there are so many other interesting things in A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL. One of them is the way the three main male characters seem to represent the state of the nation. Coincidentally, several weeks after I saw this film, I saw HANDLE ME WITH CARE (2008, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, Thailand, A+). Some critics point out that the story about the protagonist’s trip is full of symbols about the state of Thailand during the past several years. In a way, the protagonist of HANDLE ME WITH CARE seems to be the symbol of the state of Thailand or some people in Thailand.

The paragraph above has nothing to do with my own thinking. All the information above is what I conclude after reading some film reviews. I cannot analyze or decode any films by myself like that. Anyway, I think it is interesting that some films have characters which may be the symbols of some nations. Apart from A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL and HANDLE ME WITH CARE, I can only think of two other films which have characters like that: THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN (1979, Rainer Werner Fassbinder), the protagonist of which seems to represent the state of Germany after the war; and CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS (1966, Jiri Menzel). I have read some reviews which say that the protagonist of this film may represent the state of Czechoslovakia during the German Occupation.

Can you think of any other films which may have characters like that?



  1. Hi CelineJulie — The most prominent example that occurs to me is Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), in which Nargis plays the iconic ‘Indian Woman’, a farmer’s wife upon whose shoulders falls the responsibilities of the family and its economic survival. India had achieved independence from the British just 10 years earlier, so this film is explicitly about nation-building, looking ahead to a utopian India that has moved beyond both the colonial legacy and long-standing inequalities based upon caste and religion. What’s more, it’s a stunning-looking film with gorgeous color and compostions. And of course, being an Indian popular film, it’s also a musical.

    Comment by girish — March 12, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

  2. Thank you very much, Girish. I haven’t seen MOTHER INDIA, but I have heard that this film was very famous in Thailand in the past. Some old Thai people still remember this film very well.

    My Thai friend, Filmsick, just saw this film on the New Year’s Day, because his mother told him to watch it. But in the end he loves this film very much.

    He wrote about this film in Thai here:

    This is a part of what he wrote:

    “There are two films which my mother often mentions whenever we talk about films which make the theater flooded with the audience’s tears. The first film is SPRING RIVER FLOWS EAST (1947, Chusheng Cai + Junli Zheng), a Chinese black-and-white film which talks about the big flood. The other film is MOTHER INDIA.”

    “When this film was first released as VCD (video compact disc), the distributor attached a handkerchief with the VCD, because the audience would surely have to use this handkerchief to wipe out their tears.”

    Filmsick also mentions one interesting scene in the film. In this scene, some people are singing while harvesting the rice from the field. And they will stop from time to time to look at the sky in the same direction.

    Comment by celinejulie — March 12, 2008 @ 11:03 pm

  3. MOTHER INDIA was remake in thai version in 2002 and use english namethe meaning of thai name of MOTHER INDIA so it was called EARTH CRYING i haven’tseen this film but it was not success in thailand
    you can see the sypnosis snd poster in thai


    Comment by atrickofthelight — March 13, 2008 @ 2:56 am

  4. Hi, CelineJulie & Filmsick! That’s a hilarious story about the handkerchief.

    I’ve heard that in the 1950s, film reviewers in the US would sometimes measure the tear-jerking potential of a “woman’s picture” (like e.g. some Sirks) by the number of handkerchiefs, e.g a 2-hanky picture or a 3-hanky picture…

    Here is the opening wedding scene from Mother India. It squeezes a glimpse of many Hindu traditional practices into a couple of minutes.

    Comment by girish — March 13, 2008 @ 5:05 am

  5. Thank you very much, Girish, for such a beautiful clip. 🙂

    (To help explaining what Filmsick wrote: When the film MOTHER INDIA was shown in Thailand, it was given a Thai title “TORANEE GUNSAENG”, which literally means THE EARTH IS CRYING. So the Thai remade film in 2002 is also titled TORANEE GUNSAENG or EARTH CRYING. I haven’t seen this film either.)

    Comment by celinejulie — March 13, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

  6. thank you so much for translate my broken broken english and for that i will give you MOTHER INDIA’s vcd when we met next time (at BEFF5)

    but u have to find your own handkerchief 🙂

    Comment by atrickofthelight — March 14, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  7. Thank you very much, Filmsick. 🙂

    Comment by celinejulie — March 16, 2008 @ 5:30 am

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