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Post details: The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

Watching a movie in a completely empty theater is a strange experience vaguely evoking a post-apocalyptic seance. You get all the trappings of a bustling social venue, but none of the people; only a sequence of images on the silver screen and their acoustic spirits. Last week, when I went to see Robert Duvall's last movie Get Low with two of my friends, I finally got to observe it first hand. And maybe it was for the better. The movie was quite personal, in a way reading handwritten letters used to be, so I was glad that I did not have to watch it with a horde of strangers.

On the surface, the plot was a rather plain story from 1930s, revealed with an imaginative camera and impeccable sense for authenticity. But underneath the main narrative lurked something much more precious - Robert Duvall's subtly encoded message for the posterity. In that regard, it reminded me of Andrei Tarkovsky's last movie, The Sacrifice, which was also a personal manifesto as much as it was a work of art.

If you like fast paced movies glittered with special effects - this motion picture would not be your cup of tea - but if you are into finespun and deep reaching psychological probes, go for it. At one point during the movie I genuinely wanted to leave the theater and only having two friends with me made me stay. But at the end - equally genuinely - I was strongly tempted to ignore the empty auditorium and start applauding. That's how unusual and contradistinct this flick really was.

Get Low is a movie about conscience and its circuitous odyssey through the labyrinth of human mind. At first, it is barely audible, but as the story progresses you can hear a distant rumble behind the thick walls as it makes its way onto the surface. The missive is crystal clear - the forces of conscience may be weak and slow, but they are patient and persistent. They are like turfs of grass pushing their way through a layer of asphalt on an old road. It may be hard for the conscience to be heard through the insulating crust of human soul, but as the life nears its end and the hour of reckoning approaches, its voice tones up and eventually prevails. Duvall's dubbing of this voice is convincing and devastatingly pure.

Needles to say, it was a timely chosen intimation. The steadily deteriorating social and economic conditions of the past two years have shaken the common man and his belief in humanity and greater good. By illuminating the innermost skirmishes of day to day battles with one's past, Get Low shows how cathartic the eventual victory can be. I hope the Wall Street gazillionaires will get a private screening. They might learn a thing or two.

Sadly, in their brave new world conscience is no longer a predominant force. That distinction would go to its spaced out cousin - "con science".


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