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Accent is on human side

The four films from Great Britain screened at the British Council laid stress on emotions and sentiments. VASANTHI SANKARANARAYANAN writes...

RECENTLY, THE British Council, organised

the screening of four films, which had been scheduled for the International Film Festival of India at Bangalore. The four films were ``Last Resort'' (colour, 75 minutes, 2000), by Pawel Pawlikowski, ``There's Only one Jimmy Grimble'' (colour,105 minutes, 2000) by John Hay, ``True Blue'' (114 minutes, colour, 1997) by Ferdinand Fairfax and ``Fever Pitch'' (100 mins, colour 1997) by David Evans. These recent films from Great Britain highlighted the emotions of love and the part it plays in people's lives.

The other trends underscored by these films were the growing sense of competition and displacement in all walks of life. All films ended on a note of hope fulfilment of love, attainment of self-confidence to face the world, reinforcement of old values such as endurance, cooperation , pride and team spirit. While the technique employed was modern, the themes stressed on the traditional, eternal or immortal qualities of life.

There was no shunning of sentiment and emotions; on the contrary, there was a distinct appeal for reinforcement.

``Last Resort'' is the story of Tanya, a Russian woman, and her son, Artiom, who come to Britain in the hope of starting a new life. Her hopes are shattered and she is forced to seek political asylum. She lives in a bleak and grey seaside resort along with other refugees.

Her meeting with Alfie, an arcade manager, helps her to some extent in facing the desperate and hopeless situation. A warm-hearted woman, she finally finds a man worthy of her love, but she decides to go back to her homeland, Russia.

Pavel Pawloski states that this film is autobiographical. Instead of making a stereotyped issue-based British film, he combines psychological truth and naturalism in the acting with a dreamlike abstract quality. What interests one is people who defy the norms, and who despite being social underdogs have their human touch in tact.

Generally this humanism is seen only in Chinese or Iranian Films. ``Last Resort'' is one of the kind.

``There's Only One Jimmy Grimble'' tells the story of a bullied teenager's rocky journey out of adolescence into adulthood. The boy from a working class family dreams of becoming a professional football player.

The city in which the film is shot is Manchester with two opposing football teams, Manchester Union and Manchester City , the first a typical rich club, the other, a club of the ordinary people struggling to keep its position in the premier league.

Jimmy Grimble, small in size and diffident is the constant target of the school bullies. He meets many people who help him to gain self confidence. Finally he emerges champion.

The game gives him the courage to face life, to articulate his feelings for a girl and above all have faith in himself and his unique capabilties. This film reveals the intensity of adolescent experiences when a child needs unqualified love and unstinting support to tide through the perilous journey. Says director John Hay, It is a modern urban fable about how a young boy overcomes all the odds and learns to have faith in himself. It is the kind of film which should be shown in schools to inculcate faith and hope in children.

``True Blue,'' probably the finest film in this package tells the story of the Oxford University Boat Race Mutiny of 1987.

The background is the famous boat race between Oxford and Cambridge. A group of American students arrive at Oxford hoping to cheer up a boat race crew still reeling from their recent humiliating defeat at the hands of Cambridge. But disagreement over training methods and crew selection soon precipitate a bitter clash between the English and the Americans.

Against all odds, the Oxford coach manages to instil courage, and new hope into an inexperienced and demoralised crew that wins the race.

This film underscores the importance of old world values in sports such as discipline, endurance, team spirit, respect for the coach(or manager).

It also in a way questions the goodness of the modern methods of training with the aid of machines in the place of actual, physical exercises in natural surroundings.

Heavy dependence on machines rather than on genuine physical skills is also criticised.

``Fever Pitch''is a love story, once again with football as the background. It is about a man's obsession with the game.

He nearly loses the woman he loves. But her effort to understand his craze brings them together.

The funnier and seamier aspects of the game almost makes us forget the salutary aspects. It is once again love which acts as an agent in bringing these qualities to the fore.

On the whole there is definitely an effort to move away from Hollywood influences and the American value systems. If cinema is the mirror that reflects the yearnings and inner hopes of a society, the British seem to be trying to reinforce their special identity.

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