Thursday, September 7, 2006

When Fly the Stork




I have watched lots of films, and like many of them. Below is just a short list of my favourite movies and TV dramas. Share with me your list of “must-watch” films, if you have any.


I find it surprising that nearly all my favourite movies, except XiYouJi, are about wartime. Ain’t I so warlike? I probably am, but the fact I find is that all the best films revolve around conflicts and struggles of any form. If that’s true, then even XiYouJi is a ballad on struggling, the struggle between Sun Wo Kong, the rebellious Monkey King, against the mythical world of Buddha, lords of heaven and hell, fairies, and demons.


The Cranes Are Flying (1957), or Quando Voam as Cegonhas (Portugese title in Brazil, meaning When Fly the Stork). Tagline: Can war kill love, or vice versa? US audiences view it as a heartbreaking romance in times of war. Quotes:

“Boris, are you alive?” ~ “I can’t live.” (dying Boris to his comrade)


Ballad of A Soldier (1959). Tagline: The dead heroes are forever young. There is hardly any other statement so powerful against war as the one this film conveyed. Quotes:

“Kiev, my hometown is Kiev. Can you hear me darling?” ~ “No, I can’t.” (Alyosha to Shura as she was chasing the train that took him away from her forever into war.”

“Is she your woman?” ~ “Yes. But I have lost her forever.” (Alyosha to a strange passenger on his train who had seen his farewell to Shura)


Escape to Victory (1981). Tagline: Their goal was freedom. I rate it the best film on international football and sportsmanship. Quotes:

“We will win.”

“Hatch, don’t go. If you leave us now, we all will fail.” (Péle to goal-keeper Robert Hatch)

“Where should I stand for a corner kick?” (worried and embarrassed Hatch, the amateur goal-keeper, to his companion before their life-and-death match)


The Journey to the West (XiYouJi), a TV-serial by CCTV, version 1986 and 2000. Tagline: Yes, you’re the hero in our childhood dream. I rate it the best film on mythical world, a powerful and positive statement in favour of rebellion and freedom, and a presentation of limitless imagination and creativeness. The film keeps us smiling every time we watch it, or just think of it. Quotes:

“Oh, my day is gone. When will you get me free, life?”

“Who brought you to me? Was it the sparkling stream of water? Was it the bright full moon?

Who made me blue? Loving you, the way I do.”


The End of the Affair (1999). Tagline: Only Death, or God, can take them apart. I find in it a sorrowful and bitter statement against God and fate. Happy time is so short as a moment in life. In any struggle against God and fate, human beings will lose in the end, but they keep unbowed. Quotes:

“Pain is easy to write. In pain we're all drapply individual. But what can one write about happiness?”

“Love doesn’t end just because we don’t see each other.” ~ “Doesn’t it?” ~ “People go on loving God, don’t they? All their lives. Without seeing him.” ~ “That’s not my kind of love.” ~ “Maybe there is no other kind.” (Sarah and Bendrix, on a rainy day in war time London)

“I call this diary the diary of hatred. I am tired now of a life full of hatred. But I hate you, God. I hate you as though you existed. Take care of Sarah and Henry.  And let me alone forever.” (Bendrix to himself in loneliness when his beloved Sarah is departed)


Enemy at the Gate (2001). Tagline: They are born to be heroes, and all of them are. I regard it as the best film on heroism in war time. Quotes:

“Here the men have only choices between German bullets and ours, but there's another way; a way of courage, a way of love of the Motherland. We must publish the army newspaper again, we must tell magnificent stories, stories that exalt sacrifice and bravery. We must make them believe in a victory. We must give them hope, pride, a desire to fight. Yes. We need to make examples but examples to follow. What we need are heroes.”

“Man will always be a man. There is no new man. We tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there'd be nothing to envy your neighbour. But there's always something to envy. A smile, a friendship, something you don't have and want to appropriate. In this world, even a Soviet one, there will always be rich and poor. Rich in gifts, poor in gifts. Rich in love, poor in love.” (Commissar Danilov to Vassili and himself before his death)


The Pianist (2002). Tagline: Music was his passion. Survival was his masterpiece.

I view the film as the triumph of music and humanism over war. A thousand words cannot express the beauty of music. Not many quote are worthy to mention, but the music and the pianist’s eyes play upon our heart-strings.


Up Rises the Farmer, and Robin Hood (year of production unknown). Tagline: Freedom is the highest value of all, even for a child. I don’t really like these two films although Jacquou is a handsome little boy indeed, and Robin Hood is a romantic guy whose face you can’t forget. They’re just a reminder of my distant childhood. Quotes:

“Take revenge on the count! Say, ‘take revenge on the count!’ And never forget what we’ve lost.”


Anyway, it is a long time since I last had the chance to watch a memorable film. So long, so long... I loved cinema once. Now I can't fight the feeling I have after watching a new film, that is I have been such a fool wasting time on a boring movie which I get nothing from. When can I be moved by a film again?