May 21, 2011

Must Watch Before You Die #11: The Apartment (1960)

There are films that transcend the ‘cinema as art or entertainment’ debate and end up as examples of supreme achievement of the medium. One of those immortal classics is Billy Wilder’s ‘The Apartment’. Its script is one of the best you are ever going to read, and reading which remains pleasurable whether you have watched the film or not. (Click here for the screenplay). And Wilder re-writes it impeccably on screen through his masterful use of the tools of the craft, and of art.

‘The Apartment’ is a must-watch because:

• Of its wonderful and memorable performances. Note how the actors make sure you empathize with their characters without being overtly dramatic, and at the same time keep things funny without trying too hard.

• Of its immortal dialogue.

• Of how the movie stays true to its genre – which I believe is its biggest achievement. It is handling the issues of forbidden and extra-marital sex, lonely but ambitious city life, and romance, without losing its fun feel. For the self-assured balance it maintains, this film will remain a text book for all filmmakers.

• Of its universality and ability to entertain at any given time, it will always have the widest reach to the audience.

This film was entirely copied in one of the stories of ‘Life in a Metro’. So I was aware of the graph its story. Despite this, and I can never forgive Anurag Basu for that, ‘The Apartment’ has made a huge, and I hope an everlasting, impact on me. I am also confident that the repeat viewings are going to be even better, effectwise, and otherwise-wise!

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