Fatih Akin has been recognised as one of the most original voices of modern cinema. His cinema has more often than not dealt with the multi-ethnic society in his home country Germany, which in a sense is the story of many parts of the world. Himself being of Turkish origin, Akin has an innate sense of taking up issues arising out of ethnicity in a globalised world where identity of the self and community has become crucial in more senses than one. Short, Sharp, Shock (Kurz und schmerzlos) is where Akin’s journey as a filmmaker began, and in this very first film of his, he dealt with the dark recesses of human emotions through the story of there young men in multi-ethnic Hamburg, his hometown. This 1998 film won a special prize at the Locarno Film Festival. Based on an original story by Oliver Storz and starring Mehmet Kurtulus, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Adam Bousdoukos and Regula Grauwiller, it is the story of Gabriel the Turk, Bobby the Serb and Costa the Greek, three friends in a neighbourhood gang. Their camaraderie changes, however, when Gabriel, out of a stint in prison, changes, not wanting to continue with petty crimes anymore. His friends cannot understand him, and to complicate matters, he falls in love with Alice, Bobby’s girlfriend. Akin’s debut is a gritty drama set in the dangerous world of the mafia. The bonus features ‘About the Movie’ and interviews with the director and the cast make this DVD an interesting watch.
(Short Sharp Shock; dir Fatih Akin; language: German with English subtitles; NDTV Lumiere-Excel Home Videos; Rs 499)
This 1946 film, a romantic fantasy set in the backdrop of the 2nd World War, was named as the second greatest British film ever made – after “Get Carter” – in a poll by the Total Film magazine of Britain in 2004. Directed by the writer-director-producer duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, together known as The Archers, this 104-minute long Black & White film was released in the United States under the title “Stairway to Heaven”, the name coming from the fantasy-inspired setting of a broad escalator linking the “Other World” and the “Earth”. The story deals with a British wartime aviator Peter Carter (David Niven) who has to argue for his life before a celestial court. Returning to England from a bombing run in May 1945, Carter’s plane is damaged, and while he gets his crew to bail out safely, he finds that his parachute has been damaged irreparably and his chances of survival are dim. With his hope for survival receding, he connects to June (Kim Hunter), a young American woman working with the Royal Air Force, on radio. As the plane is about the burn down, Carter jumps, and wakes up to find himself in the surf, thanks to a mix-up in heaven, as “they” could not locate him in the thick fog. So, by the time “conductor” from heaven catches up with Carter 20 hours later, he has met and fallen in love with June. Since he is a victim of the confusion in heaven, Carter demands a second chance from heaven. And heaven agrees to a trial. The film also includes a young Richard Attenborough in its cast.
(A Matter of Life and Death; dir: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger; language: English & French; Enlighten Film Company; Rs 399)