Movie Musings #2
The One movie that Narendra Modi/ Arvind Kejriwal/ Rahul Gandhi should watch. In fact entire parliament.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
“Triumph of Innocence”
Just like that, this movie begins with the death of a senator, no introductions no set up, no nothing. Even the main character Jefferson Smith is introduced without any fanfare, although this happens in a banquet. So Jefferson Smith, honest well meaning ranger is picked to be the stooge who would go to Washington and how he faces the big bad political world completes the story in gist.
James Stewart is terrific as Jefferson Smith, must have been the representative American face of the thirties (this movie came out in 1939), Terrific because it is really hard to tell when if an actor is innocent or faking it. For a film to be relevant eighty years after release is no mere statement, it is only possible if it is based on the most fundamental human feelings, like on how hard it is to be honest.
Capra’s film can be compared in a way to Shankar’s Mudhalvan/Nayak, but the latter fails while trying to create a larger than life image for its hero, here Jefferson Smith remains the same old nature loving ranger even after accomplishing greater deeds and the tenets of American spirit: Liberty and Pride take precedence. These abstract things make more impact than a million songs or punch dialogues.
Repartee and evocative dialogue delivery, painting like faces that is even more enhanced by black and white, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a truly inspiring film that somehow makes you suspend cynical thoughts on governmental change for 120 odd minutes and support Jefferson Smith in his fight against the big bad world. Nail biting and how relevant even now!
(Also child labor)
The film is not without its minor irritations like the line, “despite being a woman”, but I guess it is reflective of the time. Capra’s films later fell into the view that they are too simplistic and practice hallway idealism and immersed in rhetoric, which is exactly why Narendra Modi should see this movie, maybe as requested in-flight entertainment, this is simply because of the fact that some things never change, like introducing a bill in the house still remains a tough job.
Also not fall prey to heavy handed industrialists who dictate how a country should be run, yes that would be a takeaway. But it is mainly about how important innocence is, and how powerful it can be at unlikely times.
Do watch it PM Modi, I’m sure it is worth your time. It is also about a guy who comes to the capital from a far flung city from a humble background, I’m sure you will relate to it; big time.
But like all good films, this also almost entirely belongs to the eyes of the heroine, Jean Arthur.
And it simply ends, just like that, no flourish and all. Nothing.
Also this could teach you how to hold the floor of the house and secure class participation scores.
True Classic. Level MAX.