“If you want to make a documentary you should automatically go to the fiction, and if you want to nourish your fiction you have to come back to reality.”
Jean-Luc Godard

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mysteries of Lisbon (2010): Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz’ Dickensian drama about lust, honor, jealousy, and compassion

A masterpiece of storytelling genius in the vein of Arabian Nights


By Murtaza Ali

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Mysteries of Lisbon, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
Mysteries of Lisbon (2010) By Raúl Ruiz
Our Rating: 9.5
GenreDrama | Mystery
CastAdriano Luz, Maria João Bastos, Ricardo Pereira
Country: Portugal | France
Language: Portuguese | French English
Runtime: 272 min
ColorColor



SummaryFollows a jealous countess, a wealthy businessman, and a young orphaned boy across Portugal, France, Italy and Brazil where they connect with a variety of mysterious individuals.

Mysteries of Lisbon (aka Mistérios de Lisboa) is a 2010 Franco-Portuguese romantic period drama film directed by the late Chilean master filmmaker Raúl Ruiz. The screenplay, written by Carolos Saboga, is an adaptation of an 1854 novel of the same name by the celebrated 19th century Portuguese novelist and playwright Camilo Castelo Branco. A prolific writer with a vast oeuvre comprising over 260 different titles—mostly plays, novels and essays—Branco is known for his singular style which was a seamless blend of melodrama, romanticism, wit, sarcasm, pathos, and dark humor. Speaking of prolificacy, Ruiz, with over 100 highly diverse films to his credit, made in different languages, is not far behind. Prior to the coup d’état of 1971 carried under the military command of Augusto Pinochet, Ruiz was the film advisor to Salvador Allende’s socialist government in Chile, but Pinochet’s ouster forced Ruiz to go into exile in Europe which would become his adopted home until his death in August, 2011. Ruiz's final completed feature Night Across the Street (2012) was selected to be screened posthumously in the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Since, for the major part of his career, Ruiz neither lived in Latin America nor made his films in the Spanish language, he is sometimes mistaken as a European filmmaker.

Adriano Luz as Father Dinis attends to the convalescent João, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
Father Dinis attends to the convalescent João
Storytelling is one of the most potent tools known to man. It’s not merely a means of indulgence but also a great source of inspiration. Since time immemorial, storytellers have found ways to amuse mankind by spinning yarns of their imagination. Be it the “Illiad” and the “Odyssey” of Homer, the “Mahabharata” of Vyasa, the “Jataka” tales, the “One Thousand and One Nights,” or the plays of Shakespeare, each of these masterful tales, more than anything, has proven to be a consummate manifestation of human expression. Another such tale is Camilo Castelo Branco’s Portuguese epic drama Os Mistérios de Lisboa. And, just like any great tale, it deserved to be made into a motion picture. And, who better than Raúl Ruiz to helm such an ambitious project, having previously adapted the seventh and final volume of another ambitious masterwork of literature, Marcel Proust’s magnum opus “In Search of Lost Time,” as Time Regained (1999). Make no mistake! It’s no cinch to adapt any major work of world literature. But, Ruiz has never been the one to be daunted by a challenge. Not only does he successfully adapts Branco’s work, but, in the process, also gives cinema its first major epic of the 21st century.

Ricardo Pereira as Alberto de Magalhães, Joana de Verona as Eugénia in Mysteries of Lisbon, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
Alberto de Magalhães with wife Eugénia
Ruiz, during the course of his long and illustrious career, made such multilayered films that carried a universal appeal, thus defying geographical boundaries and transcending genres. It’s worth noting that Ruiz was a student of law, theology and theatre; his profound knowledge of these disciplines is visible in all his films. In fact, Ruiz’ cinema can be looked upon as a fascinating amalgamation of the elements of theology, politics, crime, and theatre of the absurd. While Ruiz offered great attention to cinema aesthetics, he was equally keen on experimenting with novel cinematographic ideas and techniques. Because of being quite high on the intellectual quotient, Ruiz’ films can be rather challenging for the uninitiated lot, but, at the same time, a well-informed, keen-eyed viewer can extract a lot out of his thoroughly absorbing cinematic essays that feed on bizarre, labyrinthine plots, pay great importance to the use of space and time, and seamlessly blend the sensuous intimacy of text with the visual splendor of the motion picture. In a nutshell, Ruiz’ cinema can be looked upon as a continuation of the long tradition of storytellers, from Homer to Eisenstein, Sophocles to Welles, Goethe to Buñuel, Joyce to Kurosawa. And, Mysteries of Lisbon is no exception!

Clotilde Hesme as Elisa de Montfort in Mysteries of Lisbon , Directed by Raúl Ruiz
Clotilde Hesme as Elisa de Montfort
Running slightly longer than four-and-a-half hours, Raul Ruiz’ Mysteries of Lisbon is a sprawling saga of love, intrigue, power, jealousy, honor, hatred, trust, betrayal, compassion, and obsession, with a vast panoply of characters, ranging from coquettish countesses to quixotic lovers, scandalous priests to jealous soldiers, shifty noblemen to honorable brigands, chivalrous knights to sissy cuckolds, which gives us glimpses of the 19th century European aristocracy. Its hypnotic narrative, wrapped in a veil of extraordinary coincidences, is highly reminiscent of the works of Balzac, Hugo, and Dickens. At the center of the tale is a boy named João who is born out of wedlock. João is looked after and taught by a kind pastor named Father Dinis, who, as the plot progresses, gradually emerges as the movie’s pivotal character. João’s peers at the convent suspect Father Dinis to be his biological father. One day when João falls sick after being bullied by another boy who accuses him of being a criminal’s child, he is visited by a certain Countess Ângela de Lima. Who is this angelic countess? How is Father Dinis related to her and João? Rest assured, Mysteries of Lisbon will keep you on the edge of the seat until the very end! And, then there is the enigmatic Alberto de Magalhães who is a part of João’s past, present and future. Magalhães’ caricature would be taken up in detail later. Bear in mind that it's not merely Branco but a synergistic symphony of Branco and Ruiz that is on full display here.   

Léa Seydoux as Blanche de Montfort, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
Léa Seydoux as Blanche de Montfort
In Mysteries of Lisbon, Ruiz limns a beautiful canvas for the audience with the meticulousness of a tightrope walker. Ruiz is at the top of his game and seems to be in ultimate control of things: be it art direction, costume design, cinematography, editing, music, or casting. At different points in the movie a lesser character is seen either observing the proceedings from a distance or eavesdropping on the conversation between the main characters. In doing so, Ruiz chooses to emphasize on the act of observation in the film, thus inviting the viewer to be a part of the experience, and, in the process, blurring the lines that separate theatre from cinema. The end product is a visual feast, an intellectual extravaganza like seen never before on the celluloid. The mysteries of Lisbon unfold like a jigsaw puzzle; the picture becomes clearer as individual pieces start to fall in the right places. We get to see different characters across different timelines whose lives get entwined by bizarre coincidences of fate. Some of these characters reemerge at a later point in time under different names and identities. The movie’s story-within-a-story-within-a-story narrative, devised in the vein of “One Thousand and One Nights,” makes it almost impossible to grasp the things as they happen, for there is so much going on at any given point in the movie that it becomes a real challenge to keep a track of things. But, gradually, as more plot and character details fill in, the things start to become clearer, though, once the dust settles, certain ambiguities still remain in the minds of the viewer. A second and possibly a third viewing may prove to be beneficial. In his review of Mysteries of Lisbon, the late American film critic, Roger Ebert, writes, “As in Citizen Kane, it sometimes feels as if we've entered a flashback through the eyes of one character, and emerged from it through the eyes of another.”

The Knife Eater with the gypsy Sabino Cabra, in Mysteries of Lisbon, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
The Knife Eater (right) encounters Sabino Cabra
Speaking of the movie’s multifaceted characters, Father Dinis is revealed as the ultimate master of disguise. He is an adept shape-shifter who is invariably present in one guise or the other, defying the sands of time across different timelines, at key junctures in the story, on some occasions as a deus ex machine and on the others as a bystander or a secondary character. But, he is not the only shape-shifter around, for there are others who are no less adept in concealing their true identities. Among these other masters of disguise, there’s one that stands out, who, at first, goes by the peculiar name of “Knife Eater”. His is easily the most complex caricature on display in Mysteries of Lisbon. Tall and strongly built, the Knife Eater comes across as the proverbial savage, all brawn and no brains, but an epiphanous encounter with a mysterious gypsy, Sabino Cabra, proves to be a life-changing experience for this remorseless assassin, which frees his spirit and opens him up to the path of knowledge and science. In his new avatar of Alberto de Magalhães, the Knife Eater appears as a suave and wealthy businessman with an obscure past who is happily married to a beautiful woman named Eugénia. In hot pursuit of Magalhães is the yet another enigmatic character, Elisa de Montfort, the French duchess of Cliton. The archetypal femme fatale, Elisa de Montfort is hell-bent on possessing Magalhães. He would either belong to her or to no one else. And, just when things seem to go out of control for the two of them, guess who comes to their rescue? The story’s deus ex machine, Father Dinis. But, coincidences don’t end here. When Elisa de Montfort returns to France, she encounters the quixotic lover and poet, Pedro. But, who is Pedro? He is none other than the story’s protagonist, João, who has now grown up into a handsome young man. At the beginning of the film, we are warned that what we are about to witness is “a diary of suffering”. Behind the façade of splendor, Mysteries of Lisbon is indeed a tragedy of epic proportions, reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez One Hundred Years of Solitude, for the misery of solitude and pain of failure is omnipresent and everlasting.

The Puppet Theatre in Mysteries of Lisbon, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
A Still from Mysteries of Lisbon: Puppet Theatre
Ruiz has been noted in the world of cinema as a filmmaker who is not afraid to experiment and improvise. One delightful improvisation that Ruiz uses in Mysteries of Lisbon is the use of a puppet theatre. In the film, João receives a miniaturist theatre as a gift and Ruiz uses the very toy as a tool to mark the transition of one scene to the next. It not only adds to the movie’s complexity but also enhances it aesthetic value. It's like being in a world of dreams where the toys seem to have come to life. These toys only dramatize the pain of the characters that are caught in existential prisons, probably as a penance for the deeds of their ancestors. But, why does Ruiz complicate things? Well, the answer lies in what Ruiz once cheekily said, “If you can make it complicated, why make it simple?” In doing so, Ruiz succeeds in transmuting the absurd and the ironic into the sublime. Time and space are of great significance to Ruiz. In Mysteries of Lisbon, Ruiz fiddles with the idea of “multiplicity of time”. But, what is “multiplicity of time”? Well, it is basically a devise using which it becomes possible to capture two or more instances of time simultaneously. In order to understand it better, one needs to analyze the duel sequence towards the end of the film. In the very sequence, which is shot almost in real time, there is a character that stays in the background throughout the scene. Ruiz explains, “At first one doesn't not see him, and suddenly, one doesn't see anything else. One wonders: ‘What is he doing there?’ The only thing he does is walk around the bottom until the others have left. Then, out of a sudden, he is placed in the center of the image and he commits suicide. This is a game that is played often in the film: I move the center of the narrative space attention to a child, and that creates a multiplicity of times, durations, which I think is very cinematic and is impossible to capture in literature.

Father Dinis as bystander, The Execution Sequence in Mysteries of Lisbon, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
A Still from Mysteries of Lisbon: The Execution Scene
In addition to the above duel sequence—which is highly reminiscent of the lavish duel sequences depicted in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975) and Ridley Scott’s The Duellists (1977)—Mysteries of Lisbon offers many more memorable scenes. The most impressive has to be the movie’s final sequence in which the dying Pedro remembers his childhood days at the convent as the present and the past merges into one, making it impossible for the viewer to separate the real from the surreal. Was it, which we all witness after João falls sick early in the film, the imagination of a child desperate to unravel the mystery of his parentage? Ruiz’ ever so playful style never ceases to amaze this critic. Then there is a chilling sequence in which João is spoken to by a child who gestures to a man who is about to be hanged in public; the child nonchalantly tells João that the very man is his father before innocently asking the latter to play with him. Is Ruiz keen on evoking our pity or revulsion? Or, is Ruiz trying to direct us in a certain direction? Well, metaphors and symbolism are an important part of Ruiz’ work. Ruiz states in his book Poetics of Cinema: “Often, and at times immodestly, I have made use of metaphors in order to approach intuitively certain ideas; many of which could best be described as images and half-glimpsed visions. I hope that among them it is the angelic smile rather than the sardonic irony or the biting impetuousness that has the upper hand. ‘Metaphor’ is a word that has a bad reputation among theorists. To use it implies that one does not have clear ideas, and in that case, the best thing to do is to remain silent. That may be so and I regret it. Yet, in the present state of the arts: does anyone have clear ideas?

The Firing Squad Scene in Mysteries of Lisbon, Directed by Raúl Ruiz
A Still from Mysteries of Lisbon: The Firing Squad Scene
There are several instances in the film when certain characters, under extraordinary circumstances, are forced to leave their motherland. Is Ruiz lamenting for Chile, his native country, which he was forced to leave four decades ago when Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorial regime had ousted the socialist government? We have already discussed in this review the act of observation technique that Ruiz applies in Mysteries of Lisbon. The technique is best demonstrated by an alluring sequence in the film wherein Father Dinis, while travelling in his coach, observes an interesting event that takes place en route: a brawl between two noblemen which quickly develops into a spectacle. Throughout the sequence the camera doesn’t follow the two noblemen but instead stay rooted to Father Dinis during which he steps out of the carriage to get a closer look at the proceedings, inquires the bystanders about the shocking turn of events, steps back in his carriage before it slowly moves away from the scene. We only get to see as much as he does, not an iota more or less. Yet another powerful sequence that comes to this critic’s memory is the one in which a captured French soldier, fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, faces a firing squad. The scene harks back to the famous firing squad sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war masterpiece, Paths of Glory (1957). In addition, there are endless sequences featuring the beautiful puppet theatre, each of which is bound to leave a strong impression on the viewer.

The Duel Sequence in Mysteries of Lisbon, Directed Raúl Ruiz
A Still from Mysteries of Lisbon: The Duel Sequence
Overall, Mysteries of Lisbon is one of the finest specimens of filmmaking to have come out in recent times. The film is not only Ruiz’ magnum opus but is also the first major cinematic epic of the 21st century. Made on a moderate budget of 2.5 million Euros, Mysteries in Lisbon adds a whole new dimension to the epic filmmaking made popular by the likes of Akira Kurosawa, David Lean, and Werner Herzog. Here is a film that combines the cerebral impulses of literature with the visual brilliance of cinema. An important theme of Mysteries of Lisbon is the law of primogeniture, which gave the firstborn child to inherit the family estate, leaving the younger siblings in destitution. Branco, like the protagonist João, was born out of wedlock and his biological father, just like João’s, despite being born in an illustrious household, was forced to live in near-poverty due to the strict law of primogeniture. Thus, it wouldn’t be farfetched to regard Mysteries of Lisbon as a semi-autobiographical work. Mysteries of Lisbon’s theatrical cut is 272 minutes long and can pose a serious challenge to the viewers. In some countries, it was played as a six episode miniseries in 55-minute installments. But, not a second of it is boring by any means. Mysteries of Lisbon does require patience to begin with but slowly it begins to cast its spell on the viewer, teleporting him to a world of breathtaking imagery, turbulent emotions, extraordinary coincidences, endless ambiguities, and shape-shifting characters. Vintage Ruiz, Mysteries of Lisbon is not a film but an experience. A must watch!

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

References:


Movies that make you think (Film Analysis of Raúl Ruiz'That Day by Jugu Abraham)

24 comments :

  1. A very good review of a mesmerizing film. It was one of my top 10 movies of 2011 but I never got around to reviewing it as it required several viewings to soak in all the details like a work of Tarkovsky or Kozintsev. Ruiz' films are daunting--at least the 5 or 6 works that I have seen--and he bloomed in the last two films he made before he died. Keep it up, Murtaza!

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  2. An excellent analysis. Of Ruiz's works, I have only watched "Time regained." So, I am now intrigued to watch "Mysteries of Lisbon" (may be in one sitting) and to explore more of his movies. Another fascinating aspect of the analysis is the way you have evoked the names of great film-makers, by calling it a "continuation of the long
    tradition of storytellers." Will share my views about the movie soon.

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  3. Sir, I am really glad you liked it... it does mean a lot to me. Also, I must thank you for introducing me to Raul Ruiz in the first place. Now, I eagerly look forward to watching his other films.

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  4. Thanks Arun for those kind words! Mysteries of Lisbon easily has to be one of the greatest film viewing experiences for me in the recent times. Ruiz is one heck of a storyteller. I am certain that you will enjoy the film as much as I did... look forward to your review.

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  5. Murtaza, I am waiting to read Branco's book before i review the movie. Then I will know what was really Ruiz' contribution. In Ruiz' other works such as "That day," which was based his original screenplay, this is easy to assess. Not so here, even though the total effect of Ruiz' "Mysteries of Lisbon' is staggering.

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  6. Sir, I too would love to read the novel but I don't really think that the English translation of the work is even is available. If you are able to locate it then please do inform me as well.

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  7. Subhorup DasguptaApril 12, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Great list, as is only to be expected. Found a few that I need to watch. Would have loved a sortable list - year, director, genre. See? You give them an inch and they want a yard.

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  8. You shall have that the next time I compile one... thanks for sharing your thoughts!!! :-)

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  9. This is one of the fairest and broadest (yet decidedly on point) best movie lists I've ever read. While I remain most impressed by the diversity amongst your selections, seeing your inclusions of Magnolia, The Color Trilogy, Hannibal, The Godfather Trilogy (including Part III), and several others, really made me happy, as they are phenomenal, often overlooked films. I really wish you had placed "Network" and "The Graduate" in your list. Then I could call it perfect. As is, though, it's pretty damn close! Great job!

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  10. Firstly, please allow me thank you for sharing your valuable thoughts. I am really glad you you liked the list. I also feel that people sometimes a bit too harsh (or inconsiderate) in their assessment of films like Magnolia, Hannibal, Godfather: Part III, etc. And, I, for one, have always wanted to correct this oversight. Also, I must tell you that I am quite fond of "The Graduate"... as a matter of fact, it almost made the list. Regarding Network, I had watched it a long time back... I think I need to watch it again... only then I will be in a position to analyse it!!!

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  11. Hi Murtaza, I have just read your wonderful review of MYSTERIES OF LISBON on your blog and as always was very impressed. Actually it's almost too good to be hidden away like that. A review that good should be published in something like "Sight and Sound". I saw the television series but not the 'cut' film version and I agree with every word. I intend to buy the dvd of the film version; it is a masterpiece.

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  12. Martin, I would like to thank you for taking the time out to read my 2500+ words review. And, I am really glad that you actually liked it so much. I consider myself to be privileged that my reviews receive appreciation from the people I really admire the most and look up to... if the others like it as well, it's a bonus.

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  13. Any time. I'm glad you "corrected the oversight," as you put it. As for the two films I wish were included, "Network" is brilliant not only for how unflinchingly real its characters were, warts and all, but quite prescient in foreshadowing the state of affairs regarding major conglomerations and the media of today. It's chilling how much Chayefsky's satire rings true today.

    And "The Graduate" not only inspired a generation of baby boomers, who finally saw themselves within a protagonist like Benjamin Braddock, but it accomplishment and legacy in using pop songs and montages to help move the story forward, can be found in the DNA of just about every film made afterward, including even, I'd posit, "A Clockwork Orange".

    Were this my list, and its not, I know, these two would take the place of "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" and "The Prestige" or "Midnight in Paris".

    Regardless: Again, GREAT list!

    Also, if you haven't seen it, I recommend that you check out "Being There" -- Peter Sellers' last film. Wonderful film.

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  14. Yeah, I know about that film but unfortunately I have yet to watch it... it's a bit embarrassing that I haven't seen it yet because I am a huge fan of Peter Sellers... hopefully, I will watch it soon. As far as The Graduate goes, I absolutely agree. Thanks once again for sharing your valuable thoughts... it's been quite edifying to have this interaction with you!!! :-)

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  15. Readers, please note that a couple of changes have been incorporated in the above list. Close-Up (1990) has made way for Hey Ram (2000) and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) has replaced The Prestige (2006).

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  16. Jyoti Prakash MallickApril 14, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    This is pfft. :D Btw, you are an absolute inspiration too. :)You have been doing
    what i try doing on and off with my now-defunct blog, and convincing
    myself that one day i ll do an ebert-like great movies list, maybe with a seductive double entendre title ala Pauline Kael( isn't she wonderful?).
    I have a request,man.We get so obsessed with classics of the yore that
    we miss out on the movies of our times; i specifically mean hindi, and
    regional stuff. For example- I really couldn't understand what the big
    deal about Luck By Chance was, when the industry was going gaga over it,
    the first time i saw it.The second time i saw it(over the course of
    time i have seen it about 10times i think), i think it's such a classic,
    and is probably the best satires we have ever made(everyone pretty much
    gives away that trophy to Jaane bhi do yaaron).Also, Navdeep Singh's
    Manorma six feet under(fun fact dear puys- Abhinav Kashyap was one of
    the dialogue-writers) is a movie that no one has watched, and it's such a missed-out-on gem, you know. I am not one for comparisons, but
    the mood of the film, and the simmering tension that persists in the
    movie, is something that i didn't feel in Polanski's Chinatown( from
    which he took the template). Sriram Raghavan's Ek Hasina thi would be
    another example. A lot of marathi films- Umesh Kulkarni's Deool is one
    example would also fit the billing. The request- Maybe bring these
    movies back into the limelight, by doing pieces on them, heaven knows,
    we need cult classics of our own.

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  17. Thanks for your kind words... I am not sure whether i am worthy of such lavish praise. All I am interested is in pursuing my passion and in doing so if I am able to spread the power of cinema than it's a real bonus.

    I deeply appreciate your taking the time to share thoughts here on "A Potpourri of Vestiges". Also, I must thank you for sharing the names of all those classics... the blog's readers will surely benefit from your insights. Another such film that I would like to add to the above list is Rajat Kapoor's Mithya.


    I am confess that I have always been a great admirer of those Indian filmmakers who show courage to make thought-provoking films despite being aware of the impending commercial failures due to the lack in awareness in the Indian audience. Every now and then, I try to feature such films on my blog (Madras Cafe, Lootera, Barefoot to Goa, Dedh Ishqiya are some of the recent examples) but I agree that a lot more need to be done. I give you my word that I will try to contribute more in this direction in the days to come. Also, if your or any of your friends are interested, I will be happy to host guest reviews/articles here on "A Potpourri of Vestiges".

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  18. Believe me, nothing ...I mean absolutely no movie can replace "A.I: Artificial Intelligence (2001)" which is major a Stanley Kubrick baby and is arguably one of the top 3 Sci-Fi movies ever along with "2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)" and Solyaris (1972). It's filled with not only a lot of realistic near-future events but also a lot of true philosophy.

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  19. For me unsurprisingly, this is not the first time that readers when they suggest their own personal choices to replace a certain movie from any Great List, they almost always stumble upon Kubrick/Spielberg's "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)" OR/AND Scorsese's "The King of Comedy (1983)" suggesting these to be replaced. BOTH are the least understood movies for the a-little-more-than-casual enthusiastic movie-watchers. But for discerned viewers both stand as masterpieces par excellence. "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" is Kubrick's most ambitious project after "2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)" and should truly be so. And any hard-worked Kubrick movie, especially "A.I.", is not made for casual viewers to understand.

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  20. I couldn't have agreed more... and perhaps that's the reason no one can touch it's worthy place in my Top 100. The movie was Kubrick's brainchild but to Spielberg's credit he did do a great job in bringing it to life. Spielberg's says that the Anti-Mecha flesh fair and other high octane sequences are all Kubrick's while most of the emotional content is courtesy of Spielberg himself... but it's a bit difficult to digest (one can only imagine how different it would have been had Kubrick directed it himself). Regardless, the movie is one of a kind... very few movies come close to its brilliance... and barring 2001, Solyaris and Stalker (though it's not actually sci-fi in an absolute sense), I just cannot remember a sci-fi film which can be called superior to AI. Also, you are absolutely right about its realism and philosophy.

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  21. Hey Ram (2000) is my Kamal Haasan's and Sharukh Khan's most favorite movie. The scene between Saket Ram and Amjad Ali at the violence-prone soda-factory area is alone worth it's weight in gold. In fact this being a Kamal Haasan's movie in all respects, it truly being large hearted of Kamal Haasan to show his own character Saket Ram in a negative light, being turned into a emotionally blind outraged hatred-filled religious extremist. That is the scene where the unflappable Amjad Ali, his age-old friend who almost gets killed because of Saket Ram's blind hatred, tries to put some common sense into the latter. The never loved Sharukh more than the one from that scene...ever.

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  22. Murtaza, I remember being a college boy back then in 2001 when "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" was released here in India and I watched it first-day-first-show in the Sterling theatre (Mumbai). By the time the movie was over and I came out, I was totally mesmerized by it. And then there was this critic (a female) from Mid-Day an afternoon-paper (obviously) who rated it a single-star (!) on the same day (Friday) clearly saying that AI tried to replicate ET and Jurassic Park and toally failed. When I finished reading her complete review, I could not make a head or tail of it and understood that she had completely, or rather never, understood 'AI' at all. On the other hand there was my favorite Mr. Rashid Irani, a through well-respected critic from The Times Of India, who appropriately rated it a full 4/5 stars.

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