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Conversations Between Ego and Alter Ego

Conversations Between Ego and Alter Ego

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Published by Kousik Guhathakurta
This document is a collection of reflections on the great Masters of the art of Cinema Like Tarkovsky, Godarad, Bresson, Bergman, Angelopoulos, Ray, Ghatak,Pradzhanov etc. The author expresses his free and candid opnion on these masters.
This document is a collection of reflections on the great Masters of the art of Cinema Like Tarkovsky, Godarad, Bresson, Bergman, Angelopoulos, Ray, Ghatak,Pradzhanov etc. The author expresses his free and candid opnion on these masters.

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Published by: Kousik Guhathakurta on Aug 28, 2009
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01/31/2012

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Kousik 
 
Guhathakurta(kouikg@gmail.com)
Page 1
The following is an excerpt from various important moments of discussion when one took time off the less important assignments related to one’s livelihood. The opinions expressed are extremely personal in nature. If they happen to hurt anyone’s feelings one owes no apologies for that……. 
CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN EGO & ALTER EGO: REFLECTIONS ON THEMASTERSAE
:
Bergman
….
E:
 
Emotion, Passion – yes drama – human drama.
Bergman 
reminds me of Greek Theatre – I don’t know why? Close-ups – how revealing! 
 
AE
: You mean you remember him only as the playwright?
E
:
Oh no! Not at all – he is a master of theatre – no doubt – if you go through 
‘In the Presence of a Clown’ 
or 
‘After the rehearsal’ 
– that’s evidence enough! But on the celluloid he is a greater master- he catches the essence of the art and creates the art of cinema through – cinema! Essentially CINEMA – you can not think of 
Bergman’s 
films in any other form.
AE
: And
Godard
E
:
Ah! 
Godard 
– he made cinema for CINEMA
….
AE
: You mean – art for art’s sake?
E
:
I am not talking of that – THAT’S SILLY!! He made cinema, so that he could make better cinema! His art was about making art. He created so that he could understand creation better and so on and so forth…..
 
AE:
So – essentially a film theorist?
E
:
You jump the gun too fast! Theory is all about conception. Theorists conceive and then present. With 
Godard 
, there is no conception! 
AE
: WHAT???
E
:
Yes – you heard me right! There is no hypothesis for 
Godard 
. He straightaway moves to experiment and then observes. The inference is left to you. Or may be there is nothing to infer – no need for it at all. May be it’s embedded in the experiment……..
(Pause)
There are times when you get depressed with life – irritated at its meaninglessness.Such times you don’t like works of passion – you’re too frightened to touch them. The lighter works bore you. At that time you hang on to 
Godard 
. You don’t want PASSION.You don’t want GAIETY and MERRINESS. You don’t want FUN. You don’t want SORROW. You want NOTHING. That is what 
Godard 
gives you. He is a master of ‘NOTHING’. It is out of nothingness he creates everything. The nothingness engulfs everything. In short, Cinema becomes Life. Life becomes Cinema…..
AE
: That is interesting. Then what about
Tarkovsky
?
 
Kousik 
 
Guhathakurta(kouikg@gmail.com)
Page 2
E
: (Long silence)
Well, what can I say? It’s very difficult for me to talk about him. You see – for me Cinema ends with him – yes “THE END”. One can not think beyond him – he is unsurpassable No – I can not think Cinema can move any further. (In this regard I have a strange analogy – I feel the same way about 
Maradona 
– I feel that the art of soccer can not be bettered!)You see there was a time when I used to oscillate between 
Godard 
and 
Tarkovsky 
. At times I used to think it is impossible to capture life in its entirety – therefore “NOTHING” is more important than “EVERYTHING’ in art. Because you can not capture “EVERYTHING” you have to create “NOTHING”. Then “NOTHING” becomes everything.Therefore 
Godard 
rules.Then 
Tarkovsky 
showed me that the miracle can be performed. When I first watched 
“Mirror” 
, I understood that “EVERYTHING” is not elusive – it is within the grasp of art. It is possible to capture life in its entirety with Cinema! Well, after that I guess, you don’t have a choice left. Nature abhors superlatives. But in Cinema he is the greatest of them all! 
AE
: That settles the matter then. Any thoughts on the Japanese School?
E:
 
What “Japanese School”??? There is no Japanese school. There were great directors from Japan – people who defined and shaped the art of cinema. But you can’t group them under a “SCHOOL”. The three doyens- 
Kurosawa, Mizoguchi 
, and 
Ozu 
– you really can’t put the same label on them! To me 
Kurosawa 
was a Universal Man – very much like our 
Ray 
. You see- Cinema is essentially a western art. Its evolution can be traced there only. Mainly Europe (I don’t really consider Hollywood as a place where anything significant happened with regards to the art of cinema. Some basic technological progress may be- but nothing beyond that.). That is why the art of Cinema grew parallel to all modern art in Europe. The anatomy of western classical music (the modern age in particular) reveals a lot about the structural evolution of western art- modern art. Try listening to 
Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Schoenmar 
– you’ll understand.
Kurosawa 
understood that anatomy – accepted it and blended it with his roots – the Oriental art. It is not a conscious alloying process – it is more of a natural synthesis. His personality imbibed all that is good in modern art and moulded his sense of tradition that way. The characters played by 
Toshiro Mifune 
, for example, - you can’t call them quintessential Japanese. You can’t conceive them as European or Western either! But consider 
Mizoguchi 
on the other hand.
‘Ugetsu’ 
shows us the sublime beauty of Oriental art. There is perhaps no other film in World Cinema, which has such silken grace about it. The whole film is like a glacier – a smooth flowing mass of something as beautiful as ice. There is no speed – yet there is continuous movement – a flow – as sense of fluidity – akin to oriental music – the anatomy is so similar.Whereas 
Ozu 
was the great master of capturing the insignificant. The life of the Japanese is not in the hyperbole but in the understatement.
Ozu 
essentially captures that. A host of later day talents including the great 
Kiarostami 
,
HouTsien Tsian 
and the talented 
Kim-Ki-Duk 
, owe a lot to 
Ozu 
.There are others, too. How would you classify 
Teshigahara 
or 
Oshima 
, for instance? 
‘Woman in the Dunes’ 
is perhaps existential work at its best. The structure – so different. The collage of excessive close ups- almost grotesque at times. Yet the stylistic development of the film is completely in tune with the inner rhythm of the characters and the film. So universal at times - yet the sense of Orient dominates. Ikebana. That is how 
 
Kousik 
 
Guhathakurta(kouikg@gmail.com)
Page 3
you can trace his artistic sense.(Though, personally, I’ve felt that for Kafkaesque theme 
Kiarostami 
is stylistically much better suited- take for example, “The wind will carry us”)
AE:
Any other directors?
E
There were many – the Italians especially 
Fellini 
and 
Antonionni 
. Others as well – 
Rosellini 
,
Passolini 
&
Visconti 
. But, I think over the years those two stand out. I’ll never forget the experience of watching 
La Notte 
,
La aventura, La Strada 
,
La dolce 
 
Vita 
,
8 ½
&
And the ship sails on 
… The French (other than Goddard) – 
Truffaut 
, of course (Ah! 
Jul et Rime 
,
400 Blows 
!). Though 
Bresson 
stands tall. He was the best.Then, of course, the Latin experience like the fire of 
Rocha 
,
Guerra 
,
Littin 
. My personal favourite is, however,
Solanas 
. But the directors who have personally touched me most – 
Bünuel 
,
Parajanov, Fellini 
&
Angelopoulos 
. Incredible at times…… the very best. Of the later generation there is the great 
Kiarostami 
and the sublime 
Hou Hsien Hsian.Kim Ki Duk 
also has given me some moments of joy. Recently I have also been immensely impressed by the raw talent of 
Bahman Ghobadi 
and 
Vimukthi Jayasundara.
AE:
You mean to say that American Cinema had no contribution?
E:
 
I think we are discussing personal choice here and not history of Cinema.
 
If you talk of that, they explored the medium and added vitality- but their leading contributions ended with silent era and may be continued in the early talkies. One can not also forget that 
Chaplin 
made his major films there only. The contributions of 
Griffith 
and the early masters cannot be ruled out either. There was 
Keaton 
as well. One cannot forget the experience of watching 
Stroheim’s 
 
Greed 
or some of 
Welles 
. And of course 
Hitchcock 
 – the master story-teller. But taking cue from Hollywood’s forceful explosion, it was Europe which really established cinema as high art – comparable to poetry and painting.Parallely, Japan was the only major happening place outside Europe. All other developments in the Latin American lands, India, Iran and other places were inspired by the happenings in the European mainland in some way or the other.
AE:
Nobody from India? Particularly from Bengal?
E:
 
Not really. One can never leave out 
Ray 
. He was a part of our growing up. He was not just a film maker. He was a larger than life icon. The lone torch bearer of an era gone past- the last Renaissance Man from Bengal. His writings, sketches , and of course, films played their part in defining and shaping our tastes. As I grew up, however,Rays’ films no longer offered the same excitement – lost their charm a bit, I am afraid.Still, I’d always love to watch 
Aparajito, Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen 
and may be 
Kanchenjungha 
. Purely as a filmmaker,
Ghatak 
, in his more inspiring moments,created a magic that always sparked my imagination. Of the later generation,
Budhadev Dasgupta’ 
s (for obvious reasons) films always have something in store for me.
 
AE:
What about
Sen
?
E:
 
Hmmm….. (Silence) Let’s put it this way- never my cup of tea! 
AE
: But ‘
Kahandahar
’ was recently selected as one of the 100 best films of the pastcentury!

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