Utpal Borpujari

December 2, 2009

DVD Reviews: Dead Man, Alphaville, The End of Violence

By Utpal Borpujari

Violence has been a favourite subject of filmmakers worldwide since the time the art of cinema came into being. Directors like Quentin Tarantino has even mastered the craft of making violence look almost poetic, and there are films and films with violent themes that have cult followings.

Here are three films that are essential viewing for anyone who loves this genre. Violence does not necessarily always mean blood and gore. Sometimes it can be of mental kind too. It also not necessarily be always grim. And Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man”, Jean-Luc Godard’s “Alphaville” and Wim Wenders’ “The End of Violence” showcase how varied the meaning of the word can be.

Godard’s 1965 black & white film is what is called a true masterpiece. Protagonist, private investigator Lemmy Caution, finds himself in strange surroundings as he reaches Alphaville in search of one Prof von Braun. Strange because the town has abolished love and made emotion punishable by death. Alpha-60, a computer developed by von Braun, seems to control the thought of all residents of the town. Godard’s futuristic story has very little physical violence, but his masterly use of camera and lighting, and aided by a taut script, makes it a great example of cinema depicting violence of the mind.

American Jarmusch’s “Dead Man” is set in the early 20th century, with protagonist William Blake (Johnny Depp) travelling to the far-West of America for a job but ending up killing a man. Blake, hounded by all, finds help from a Red Indian who mistakes him to be a poet with the same name. Jarmusch keeps the violence palpable throughout the film, making the audiences feel its presence throughout.

(An abridged version was published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 22-11-2009)



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