Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A review... There might be a post later...

If I hadn't had to watch it for class, I probably never would have picked up Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Even if I'd known it existed, flipping over to the back and seeing the running time (224 minutes) would have probably made me put it back. After all, running time is the biggest reason I haven't seen Sunshine yet. But it was assigned, and so I watched it, and since I liked it, I thought I would review it.

Lagaan is by no means original or surprising. It's an underdog sports movie, with a cultural love triangle, discernable familial and cultural conflicts, and a very strong nationalist sentiment. Does the fact that it reminds me a little of Canadian films mean that the post-colonial experience is Empire-wide? I have no idea. But although there were parts of the culture that flew by me, I identified very strongly with the Indian characters and their struggle with identity and power.

I was, of course, watching it from a post-colonial theoretical standpoint. But whatever else it might be, Lagaan is an easy-to-watch sports movie, where the sport is cricket, and something more important than bragging rights are on the line. And in the same way as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon can make people believe they speak Chinese, this one almost made me believe I could speak Hindi. It's well acted, well conceived, and even the musical numbers (yes, there are some) are believable in context.

That said, it's FOUR HOURS LONG! There are some scenes that are repetitive and could have been cut or rewritten to introduce something novel to the story. But it could have been a lot worse. I've seen two-hour movies that are a lot worse, actually...

I do recommend it, if you have the time and inclination. It really is an enjoyable watch.


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