December 23, 2012

Must Watch Before You Die #33: Z (1969)

I think I’m an obsessively positive person; obsessively, because my need for positivity, and my faith in it, borders to an extreme. I think this world is a beautiful place, and it’s disappointing how many fail to notice the abundant beauty all around us. But then, I have friends and acquaintances who have completely contrary views from mine. Whether they have a hint of cynicism or a rational realistic approach to life, they believe that we live in a miserable world which cannot hope to get any better. I cannot argue with them because when they talk about the wrong being committed by man all around the world, I can only nod silently, and regretfully. Because then my theory that “nothing bad can happen to you if you are good” falls flat on my face. Because then I realize that perhaps my persistent positivity has so much to do about the way I have cocooned myself away from the rest of the world. And then, there is this unnecessary, unreasonable, inexplicable guilt.

Let me state some facts. I do empathize with the innocent victims of man’s heinous crimes occurring all around us every moment. I do wish that this never happened. I do know that I will do all that is expected of me in such situations. But largely, at an emotional level I remain unaffected. Not having a TV is a big advantage, and every time there is some sensational and disturbing news driving the media into frenzy, I thank myself for not having the idiot-box at home. I do not indulge in any kind of social networking, and BlackBerry and WhatsApp are still Greek and Hebrew for me. The morning newspaper and Google News keeps me updated about everything, and I’m fine with that. Most of my waking hours are spent alone in my room, listening to music, watching movies, reading, writing, or talking on phone with those who are fine with my obsessively positive way of life.

The latest news of the brutal gang-rape in Delhi is echoing all around the country, and beyond, as I write these words. It has disturbed me immensely, perhaps more than before, and I pray to God for that girl, and I hope adequate and effective measures are taken for a better future in a better society. But then I retreat to my cocoon. And I smile, looking at the joy all around me. I know there is no reason to feel guilty about it, but how can I be sure that I am not being an ostrich, with its head buried in sand, cutting the world from its view, and believing that it is safe? Is it true that the only way to stay positive and preserve one’s sanity in this horrible world is by staying shut in a room, and staying hopelessly obsessed with hope, and dreams and fairy-tales?

Amidst all this, I got to watch Costa-Gavras’ provocative political thriller ‘Z’ (1969). Watch it for its use of film editing to complement the story it wants to tell. Watch it if you are cynical or a realist. Watch it if you are an obsessive optimist. Watch it if you have already watched ‘Shanghai’ (2012), the Hindi-language adaptation of the same story. Because a film so disturbing to your intellect without disturbing your senses, and a film so powerful and confident with its design, is rare. And ‘Z’ is that rare masterpiece.

P.S. Now that we have survived the Doomsday, I congratulate you and me, because this assures for us a sustained discovery of cinema and its pleasures, and more Must-Watch recommendations to come!


  1. In a world where thr are both miracles and mishaps,i think what the world needs most is positivity...and an undying faith in it.

    keep ur optimism on, tats wat life is abt. tats wat it takes to sustain life and feel alive.

    it is hope tat keeps us going, truly. :)

  2. Nice review..Would like to read your review of Govind Nihalani's 1984 film Party which discusses existential angst among other things.. Will you be able to please review that film?