Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Fire (movie review)

The religious studies student is visiting again, so when we visited Movie Madness, we each picked one consistent with our areas of investigation.  I'm into the Cult of Bucky (meant tongue-in-cheek) and so picked The House of Tomorrow.

She's into gender studies and gender fluidity, and she picked Fire, a film by Deepa Mehta, also anthropological in flavor.  We watched them as a double feature, Fire first.  One of her contacts in Nepal said this was an important movie.

The film is set in a modern India with lots of background traffic noises and smoggy skies. The Taj Mahal appears, in the new couple's honeymoon, against an uncharacteristically blue background, more of a postcard, and a metaphor for flawed relationships.

We're told a story about some deliberate blemish in the Taj structure, exacted by the slave architect, in retaliation for the master's excessive jealousy (he has the architect deliberately debilitated so he won't design a competing Taj down the road -- as if one couple's love was at the expense of all others).

The love story takes place against a backdrop of tradition and convention, which accepts a lot of cruelty, especially from males.  Women in tech encounter these attitudes when seeking self-sufficiency within the political economy.

The dependence of women, on the social networks of men, is an "in your face" aspect of some societies.  In others, there's more reciprocity.  Sometimes a system will stray from an equilibrium and enter a chaotic phase, which may result in a new equilibrium down the road, some kind of "plateau".

The elder granny character, still able to follow the action, but unable to articulate her thoughts publicly, has a front row seat on a lot of the rule breaking going on.

The younger wife and protagonist has to put up with a very reluctant husband whose primary love interest is Chinese.  The older wife is married to a guy trying to follow the teachings of his swami, but he suffers from overwhelm and occasionally needs mothering. 

Both wives see their relationships as emotional dead ends, and yet the two get a lot out of being together.

Unfortunately for the illicit couple, their relationship is occasion for blackmail and counter-threats.  A family servant is especially prone to resort to spy-and-tell as a ploy to preserve his situation, after his own illicit addictions have been found out.

My comment at the end was I'd been overwhelmed by the sound track, which did a lot to create atmosphere, pretty effectively I thought.  The music gets very ominous sometimes.

I'll bridge to the second movie through the Taj, as in Bucky lore, the Montreal 67 dome was a Taj of sorts, dedicated to his own wife, Anne Hewlett, and their relationship.  This second movie of the evening was more heteronormative as we say, and more lighthearted.