Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Films, A Hundred Years Apart

Television has the ability to take us from one end of the spectrum to the other rather abruptly, as I discovered yesterday.  I was treating myself to a leisurely Sunday afternoon's watching of 'Dr. Zhivago', naively presuming that as I had read the book and seen the film years ago, I would be prepared for some of the intensity of the movie.  That, of course, was not true and I felt the tremendous impact of the film as if it was the first time I was watching it - the Russian harshness and bleakness on one side, the overpowering strength of passion and idealism on the other, leading inevitably to loss and despair.

At night, the family wanted to watch 'The Social Network' (a Hollywood version of Mark Zuckerberg's rise to fame as the co-developer of Facebook).  It showed contemporary, smooth talking America in all its brittle glory - a world of amazing technological advances, sophisticated computer programming, privileged and ambitious undergraduates.  A world where money takes care of everything, where there are no restrictions, where social dysfunction is tolerated and aggression accepted as a matter of fact.  Not as heart rending as the Russian revolution and civil war, with its imposed tragedies, but very bleak in a different way, because it showed that despite all the freedom and facilities, people can hurt each other tremendously just because of thoughtlessness or because they choose to do so.

Nothing really to conclude at the end of this film watching episode, apart from the reminder that each person has the power to add to remove something from another's world, if he wishes to exercise this.  It depicted, rather forcefully, how our inner world can destroy us even if we have everything at our fingertips and how love can sustain us when everything around us seems to fall apart.

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