"A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it". So said Alfred Hitchcock.
And, film buffs in Coimbatore had no argument with that as they sat through the master's retrospective and watched Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho.
There is something to be said for watching films with a roomful of movie-mad people. There is a festive buzz, with posters and brochures put up on Hitchcock and the other directors whose works have already been screened by the Konangal Film Society.
Rear Window is great fun. For starters it has a good-looking cast. James Stewart is, well, James Stewart, and Grace Kelly, who plays his girlfriend, looks spectacular (Did you know that she was very first actress to appear on a postage stamp, in 1993).
It is about an injured photographer, confined to a wheelchair. (Hitchcock is said to have based the story on the real life romance said to be happening between Ingrid Bergman and photographer Robert Capa at that time). He is bored, so he passes time looking out of his window into his neighbours' homes.
Each window he peeps into has a story being played out. Voyeurism pays. He discovers that one of his neighbours has murdered his wife. An interesting fact is that the entire film has been shot on set (at the time, it was the largest set ever constructed).
A lively interaction follows the screening. Someone asks whether it was `ethical' for Hitchcock to make the protagonist a voyeur. Camera angles and background music are talked of; parallels are drawn between what is happening in the protagonist's life and the lives of his neighbours — the comments take interesting twists and turns.
Till, another viewer says: "It is an entertaining movie, let's just leave it at that."
Nevertheless, over an ilai saapadu (provided by the organisers at Rs. 50 per head with two tea-and-biscuit breaks as well) Hitchcock's style and substance is discussed some more.
And, then another masterpiece, Vertigo (James Stewart and Kim Novak). Martin Scorsese has said of the film, "Vertigo strikes a deep chord in me every time I see it."As, indeed, it does, with its sense of mystery, a touch of the supernatural that is eerie, beautiful and gripping all at the same time.
By now there is only one thought in everyone's head — Psycho (Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh).
You'll never look at a shower curtain again without misgivings. The bathroom scene was all that it was promised to be, and more. And, Perkins playing Norman Bates is satisfyingly psychotic! And the background music is amazing.
(Hitchcock was so pleased with the score written by Bernard Herrmann that he doubled the composer's salary to $34,501 and said, "33 per cent of the effect of Psycho was due to the music").
It is a rare treat to watch films made by the masters. And, discussions, debates and interaction about the films and the filmmakers are a bonus. Konangal made special efforts to bring that extra something into the screening. In this case, an interview with Alfred Hitchcock where he declares poker-faced, that there is not much difference between him wanting to make Psycho to scare people and a young mother saying `boo' to her three-month-old baby!
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Konangal's aim is to reach good cinema to as many people as possible. It is particularly keen to get school and college students to view good films, and is more than happy to organise shows for them. It is also planning a children's film festival during the summer vacation.
For details about subscription and events, contact Pon Chandran at 94430-39630 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit their blog http://konangalfilmsociety.blogspot.com/