Thursday, 10 July 2008


On day 3 of our Spaghetti westerns festival, we bring to you...

...The mother of all Westerns...

“When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk.”

The last movie of the ‘Dollars trilogy’ is a bit different then the previous ones. For starters, the title doesn't mention anything about dollars. Yet it is still considered part of the series due to the appearance of Clint Eastwood, and the similar storyline (all three concern the acquisition of large amounts of gold by The Man With No Name playing two sides against each other). The film’s working title was The Two Magnificent Tramps and was changed just before shooting began when Vincenzoni, the scriptwriter, thought up The Good, The Bad & The Ugly which Leone loved. It was part of Time's "100 Greatest movies of the last century".

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

For a Few Dollars More, July 9

“I didn't hear what the bet was.”

“Your life.”

This sequel to A Fistful of Dollars continues what is called the ‘Dollars trilogy’.

In this movie, the Man With No Name is back, and this time he's a bounty hunter. So is the Colonel (Lee Van Cleef). They both set their sights on a recently escaped bandit, Indio, who plans to rob the Bank of El Paso. The Man with No Name and the Colonel conspire to turn in Indio and his men for a huge reward, but with such a huge reward, the two bounty hunters must watch each other as closely as they watch Indio.

For a Few Dollars More is the first film that contains what is to become a Leone trademark, the musical theme embodied within the movie itself, where the music is often both diagetic and non-diagetic (within and separate from the action).

Poster by Vidit Narang

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

A Fistful of Dollars, June 8

“When a man's got money in his pocket he begins to appreciate peace.”

An obscure director named Sergio Leone was given $200,000 and a load of leftover film stock and told to make a Western. With a script based on Akira Kurosawa's samurai epic Yojimbo and an American TV actor named Clint Eastwood, Leone made what was essentially supposed to be a throw-away film; Per un Pugno di Dollari - A Fistful of Dollars. This violent, cynical and visually stunning film introduced ‘The Man With No Name’, the anti-heroic gunslinger for whom money is the only motivation and the villains are merely obstacles to be removed. Many later films followed this formula of the lone gunman in pursuit of money to the exclusion of all else. Leone's unique style, artistic camera angles, extension of time and raw, explosive violence presented a skewed view of the West, making his film different from any Western that had come before. Critics panned it for its brutal depiction of an unromantic West, but audiences loved it.

Poster by Vidit Narang

Spaghetti Westerns

This week's screenings are a package of four Spaghetti Westerns, directed by Sergio Leone, that Filmclub has received from the Italian Cultural Institute:


What are Spaghetti Westerns?

Between 1960 and 1975, European film production companies made nearly 600 Westerns. Critics either blasted or ignored these films, and because most of them were financed by Italian companies, they called them Spaghetti Westerns.

Originally these films had in common the Italian language, low budgets, and a recognizable highly fluid, violent, and minimalist cinematography that broke many of the conventions of earlier Westerns — partly intentionally, partly as a result of the work being done in a different cultural background and with limited funds. The term was originally used disparagingly, but by the 1980s many of these films came to be held in high regard, particularly because it was hard to ignore the influence they had in redefining the entire idea of a western. Most traditional Westerns have clearly defined lines separating heroes from villains; only in Spaghetti Westerns do both sides begin to stray into the gray areas in between.

Sergio Leone
Leone came from a family with roots deep in the Italian film industry. His mother, Edvige Valcarenghi (stage name Bice Walerian), was a silent movie actress who gave up her profession when she married Vincenzo Leone in 1916. Vincenzo (stage name Roberto Roberti) directed and acted in films during the silent era, but for reasons that are not entirely clear he was prevented from working during the 1930s by Italy's Fascist regime. Vincenzo tried to discourage his son from entering the world of cinema, and Sergio briefly studied law before working as an unpaid fifth assistant on Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief in 1948.

Leone's first directorial effort came in 1959, when he stepped in to finish The Last Days of Pompeii for his aging mentor Mario Bonnard. He directed only seven films, his most famous being the three of the "Dollars trilogy".


The Colossus of Rhodes (1960)

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

For a Few Dollars More (1965)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Duck, You Sucker (A Fistful of Dynamite) (1971)

Once Upon a Time in
America (1984)

Thursday, 3 July 2008


In tuesday's film Charulata, what begins as a seemingly straightforward character study quickly develops into a scathing critique of the social hypocrisies of the Bengali Renaissance. Charu becomes representative of a generation of women, encouraged to experience a sense of liberty and independence, but only within the andarmahal (inner sanctum of the house).

Today's film is different from Charulata, read on.

Abbas Kiarostami


103 mins.

The film tells a story of Hossein, a poor man who acts in a film as  the husband of Tahereh,
a woman who in real life
he has been pursuing without success.

By defining the role of cinema as a chronicle of real life, Kiarostami takes on the role of documenter rather than director. In depicting the everyday lives of ordinary people through mundane conversations and unremarkable actions, he attempts to capture the essence of the human soul in a way that is honest and contemplative. But in the process of conveying life in real-time, his films can also test one's patience. In Through the Olive Trees, the director shuts off the camera, only to find that the lives of his actors are far more fascinating off-camera than the characters that they portray on camera. To accelerate this revelation, that is, to cull out the personal observations of the director for the sake of brevity, is to deny human experience. To trivialize its message is to comment on our own insignificance. Should the camera only be used as an instrument of entertainment? Is the wonder of life only worth capturing when there is an audience?

The final scene of Through the Olive Trees is a hypnotic reflection of the passage of real time, and we are reminded that we have witnessed one mere episode, one fleeting glimpse, of a wondrous phenomenon called life.

About the Director

Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1940. He graduated from university with a degree in fine arts before starting work as a graphic designer. He then joined the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he started a film section, and this started his career as a filmmaker at the age of 30.

He is the most influential and controversial post-revolutionary Iranian filmmaker and one of the most highly celebrated directors in the international film community of the last decade. Kiarostami's films contain a notable degree of ambiguity, an unusual mixture of simplicity and complexity, and often a mix of fictional and documentary elements. He has consistently attempted to by lowering its full definition and forcing the increased involvement of the audience. This he normally achieves with his style which is notable for the use of panoramic long shots where the audience is intentionally distanced physically from the characters in order to make them reflect on their fate.

poster--> Vidit Narang

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


This time round, we've planned themed weeks. Each week will bring with it films of a certain genre. This week, we start of on a nice note, with Romantic films.

Satyajit Ray

117 mins, b/w


Charulata, one of Ray's undoubted masterpieces, is adapted from Nastanirh,a story by Rabindranath Tagore.

It is an exquisitely shot, sublimely haunting, and emotionally complex film on the nature of human relationships.

At the heart of the conflict are three well-intentioned, sympathetic protagonists - Bhupati, Charulata, and Amal - who clearly love and respect each other, but realize that their individual actions have led to an unforeseeable, yet inevitable emotional betrayal. Satyajit Ray does not dilute the gravity of the situation with an act of adultery or violence, but with the subtle gaze of crushing realization and the heartbreaking weight of consequence.

Set in the Calcutta of 1879, the period of the Bengal Renaissance, the period is meticulously created - the costumes, the heavy Victorian furniture, the wallpaper, the typography of Charu's husband's journal.

The film boasts of some of Ray's most cinematic sequences and the music sets the tone of the film with remarkable use of musical motifs. Amal serenades Charu with the famous Tagore song Ami Chini-Go-Chini. Two other popular Tagore songs, Momo Chittye and Phule Phule are evocative of the restless yearning of a free spirit aroused by the resonant beat in another, and Ray has Charu sing them at key junctures of progress in her relationship with Amal.

For more on Ray visit: