Haunted by the Past

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Essie Davies and Noah Wiseman in Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook”

 The Babadook (2014, Australia)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Screenplay:-Jennifer Kent
Starring: Essie Davis (Amelia), Noah Wiseman (Samuel), Benjamin Winspear (Oskar) and Barbara West (Mrs. Roach)

“If it’s in a word or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of The Babadook.”

**Spoiler Alert: The following text contains major plot points. Please avoid reading it if you haven’t seen the film.

Jennifer Kent’s debut film “The Babadook” has a ticking bomb in each scene. There is urgency in the proceedings and inevitably bad things happen, but in a manner which annihilates our presumed expectations.
Horror movies generally do not seem to care about the lives of its characters. They are generally poorly written, and are there just to justify the special effects, and all the text book horror tropes that proceeds thereafter. That’s why it was so refreshing to see a movie which has characters which we care about and sympathize with, even when they begin to spiral down in madness.“The Babadook” plays out more like a psychological drama about a mother and a son struggling to cope up with their lives in the aftermath of a tragedy. It transcends the genre and feels extremely moving as you think more about it.
The mother, Amelia (Essie Davis in a tour de force performance) has finally repressed her insurmountable grief of losing her husband Oskar, seven years ago in a road accident, while traveling to the hospital to have their son, Samuel. She has stopped talking about her husband’s death with people including her son(who can’t stop mentioning him).She hasn’t moved on from the tragedy as her sister Claire rightly points out. She has had no relationship since Oskar’s death. This strategy is making things worse for her. She is haunted by the event and is unable to find sleep in weeks.
The son, Samuel is having tough times himself. He has no friends. He is becoming aggressive. He accidentally breaks her cousin’s nose,and thereby making his and her mom more isolated from the society. Like every year, his mom is not celebrating his birthday because it coincides with the day Oskar died. It’s an interesting point, rarely seen in other films. It also shows how Amelia prioritizes the death of her husband more than the birth of her son, something which unravels more powerfully at the end. Samuel seems to be preparing himself for a battle with some kind of a monster. Learning magic tricks, making weapons. He makes promises of protecting his mother. Does he know something more than we think he does?

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The mother and the son are both struggling from nightmares in sleep as well while awake. They are in a perpetual state of mourning. Kent wonderfully creates a wounded family already struggling with reality and dreams,even before the monster arrives. The book “Mister Babadook” (illustrated by Alex Juhasz) finds its way to the story book shelf of the kid. Kent shrewdly avoids telling; how it reached its present location (It’s pretty obvious if you think about it).
The book indicates the events that are supposed to follow. At this point, I felt that the film was entering in a more predictable territory, only it doesn’t. It is not a coincidence that the Babadook wears the same clothes and hat as that of the deceased Oskar. The whole movie runs from the point of view of Amelia and she is not a reliable narrator.
Scarily we realize soon, how deep the trauma of Oskar’s death runs within Amelia. It’s tearing her from inside. She is resentful towards everything that exists in her life- her son, her dog, even her job. She feels that she got all these at a huge price and would love to barter it if she could.
It’s not difficult to recognize that Kent seemed to be inspired from “The Shining”. I must say that Essie Davis does a terrific job channeling her inner James Cagney. It’s an extremely demanding role, and Davis does an excellent job.

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At the end,we discover that the monsters get to us only if we let them in. We all have our demons, and we have to live with it, accepting it’s presence but locking it somewhere deep down. The acceptance of the present along with the agonizing past makes the ending extremely gratifying. Notable film critic, Anthony Lane of “The New Yorker” argues that there should be a law passed that all horror movies should be made by female directors. After watching this film, I think people will find it hard to disagree with him.

P.S: The word “Baba” means father in Persian and Hindi.

Liebster Award

liebster-award

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that two of my blogger friends: Virginie Pronovost of “The Wonderful World of Cinema” and Summer Reeves of “Serendipitous Anachronisms” nominated me for the Liebster award.I want to thank them for their kindness and support for this new blog.

So,according to the rules I am answering the 11 questions asked to me.

My first set of answers are to the questions asked by Virginie and the second one is for Summer.

1- If you had the chance to play any movie character, which one would you have choose?

Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence.

2- Which movie made you discover the world of classic films?

“Casablanca(1942)” by Michael Curtiz

3- What are your three most favorite decades in films?

My favorite decades are :1930s,1940s and 1970s

4- With whom do you watch your  films?

I love watching films alone.

5- What movie star do enjoy the most listening to their interviews and why?

I love watching the interviews of Tina Fey,she is funny and awesome.

6- What do you think was the best screenplay ever written and why?

This is a difficult one.I think the screenplay of “The Apartment” by Billy Wilder and I A L Diamond will one of the contenders.The characters,the lines,almost everything was top-notch.Even props like “the broken mirror” was used perfectly.

7- You have the chance to visit one movie set during an entire day and discover its secrets. Which set do you choose?

I think it would be fascinating to spend a day on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001:A Space Odyssey.

8- You try to convince someone to watch classic films. What is your major argument to convince him or her?

I think a major reason for why some people are not attracted to watch classic films is because they are in black and white but I think the plot synopsis is a great way to make it more appealing.People are attracted to good stories.The classic films are repleted with good stories.

9- Is there a movie everybody has seen you are ashamed to admit you never saw it?

Yeah, I haven’t seen “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy yet.

10- Do you own some movie posters? If yes, which ones?

Yes,I have posters of “My Man Godfrey”,”Full Metal Jacket” and “Letter From An Unknown Woman”.

11- You are invited to a costume ball and you have to dress up as a movie character or a movie star. Which one do you choose?

I think Alex from “A Clockwork Orange” only because white shirts and trousers are easier to get and so is fake eyelash.

  1. What movie have you seen more times than necessary?                                                                                                                      “The Royal Tenenbaums” by Wes Anderson.I have seen it countless number of times.I totally love this film.
  2. What movie scared you?                                                                                                                                 “Carrie” by Brian De Palma
  3. What do you wish they would adapt or re-adapt to cinema?                                                                                                                            I wish the novels of “Graham Greene” is adapted and re-adapted properly.
  4. Are there any forthcoming films or TV shows you are excited about?                                                                                                                              Alyssa Rosenberg has made me excited about the new tv show “Survivor’s Remorse.”I am looking forward to that.I am really looking forward to watch “Carol” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and the new Tarantino movie only for Ennio Morricone’s background score.
  5. What are your favorite Shakespeare-ish films (Derivative work)?                                                                                                                              I would say Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” and “Ran”
  6. What’s your favorite movie about show business?                                                                                                                        Fellini’s “Eight and A Half”
  7. What’s your favorite documentary?                                                                                                                  Steve James’s “Hoop Dreams”
  8. What’s your favorite movie score?                                                                                  “Cinema Paradiso” by Ennio Morricone.Here is a sample.
  9. Why did you start blogging?                                                                                                                          To express my love for movies,to participate in the dialogue about them.
  10. What do you think is the nicest thing you’ve discovered about blogging?                                                                                                                          The blogging community is extremely kind and the love many people have for movies is inspiring.
  11. What are your other interests?I love reading fiction,rock music and traveling.

My nominations for Liebster award are:-

  1. The Sporadic Chronicles of a beginner blogger by Zoë.
  2. Smitten Kitten Vintage by Rhonda
  3. Girls Do Film by Victoria
  4. EmmakWall by Emma
  5. Defiant Success by Anna
  6. Le of Critica Retro
  7. Ramblings of A Cinephile by Marta
  8. Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies by Paul S
  9. I Heart Ingrid by James Miller
  10. Moon in Gemini by Debra Vega
  11. Goose Pimply All Over by Tonya

My 11 questions are :-

  1. Which is your favorite film of the 70s?
  2. Which is your favorite adaptation of a novel?
  3. Which is your favorite Western?
  4. Which film have you seen the most number of times?
  5. Which is the first film that you have seen in a theater?
  6. Which are the five DVDs/Blu-rays in your personal movie collection which you will never give to anyone?
  7. Which is your favorite animation film?
  8. Which movie star you’d love to go on a dinner with?
  9. Which is your favorite movie soundtrack?
  10. Which is a film that you will recommend that you think not many have seen?
  11. Who is your favorite film critic?