The Goddess of 1967 Introduction In my research essay, what I have tried to explore is the validity of the distinction between art film and non-art film and my analysis points to a success formula which is a perfect blend of art traditions and classic Hollywood traditions in film making…
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The film, The goddess of 1967 (Law, 2000) has a duration of 118 minutes in which the viewer is invited to traverse a beautiful physical landscape that parallels a bizarre and melancholy emotional landscape. Before immigrating to Australia, Clara Law, the director of this film, had made a number of films in Hon Kong which won good reception also (Phillips, 2001). This particular film had earned entry into prestigious film festivals like Venice and Toronto film festival (Phillips, 2001). The theme of the film is a journey undertaken by two strangers- a man and a woman- under odd circumstances, and the recollections they make of their lives through which they heal themselves as well. On surface, it is for the sake of a car, the whole journey is undertaken, but deep inside it is a journey through one’s own self for the protagonists.
This was a movie that perplexed its viewers so that they were divided into its fans and foes (Coyle, 2005, p.67). Only two things that are seemingly perfect in this film are 1) the car, which is a much coveted Citroen DS, and 2) the natural beauty that encompasses the visual narrative of the film. Everything else is flawed- the minds of the characters, the life situations and the memories. Yet the beauty of the car is paralleled by the beauty of the landscape in each frame in which they appear together. And the film, like many other travel films, shows how the emotional wounds are healed by mutual understanding and companionship, by revisiting the past with a retrospective calmness. What the director tries to explain This film is about a lot many things including the mechanical life that one encounters in a city, the helplessness of human existence, loneliness, crime and the baser elements of human mind. Chaudhuri (2007) has called this film based on “themes of exile” wherein the male protagonist is a temporary migrant in Australia and the female protagonist is alienated from her society and family in her own land and hence living a life of exile (p.122). Fung Cheu (2007) on the other hand has opined that the theme of this film is “cultural dislocation” (p.129). From a direct view point, this film has been also called the story of an abused woman (Fung Cheu, 2007, p.141) By making a car the major presence in this film, a car with a history, a car venerated as perfect and elegant in all times, the film contrasts the perfection of a machine with the liveliness of even a flawed human existence. A machine cannot sin against its design and it is built to behave, but a human being is prone to vices but still retains a hand full of godly moments in his/her life. In a feminist interpretation of the presence of this car in this film, some critics (Senzani and Florida Atlantic University, 2008) have said that the car represented a channel of “escape… for the abused women”, and even a “mobile home” (p.431). It is also a depiction of how circumstances make and carve human characters. The film is made in such a way that this conclusion can be arrived at either with pessimism or optimism. The beauty of the film is in that it never advises the viewer to make either of this choice. The director herself has called this film “an attempt to portray the dysfunctional character of contemporary life and personal relations” (as cited by Phillips, 2001). The isolation that comes inevitably with urbanization, the bizarre ways in which humans try to relate, even by trying to love reptiles and strangers, and the visible absence of a community around human lives, are some aspects that gets subtly discussed in this film.
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