October Sky & The Shawshank Redemption

Yesterday, a 10 day short break for the Erdkinder began – and we thought, may be they could see a couple of films (not high brow, not Arthouse, nor very mainstream, but reasonable flicks) that they can reflect on and get back to the school post holidays.

The first was ‘T’he Shawshank Redemption – a reasonable film (story of that pulp ‘horror’ fiction writer – Stephen King) directed by Frank Darabont. After seeing ‘The Shining‘ (story of the same King but directed by Stanley Kubrick) – sometimes I wonder how this shawshank would have turned out, if  Stanley had directed it. But then, probably Stanley would not even have touched this story as it is fairly linear, predictable and with a lot of loophomes to boot. But given the basic parameters, Shawshank is a good story of hope. Of course Morgan Freeman is there, he is good, but the best acting is by Bob Gunton – what with the image of a cynical manipulator and a system-beater, being perfectly portrayed by him.

Recommended, if one doesn’t want to exercise her brain cells and go with the ‘flow.’ Definitely reasonable entertainment and it makes one think. The children of course ‘enjoyed’ the film and latched on to the ‘hope’ and ‘persistence pays’ themes, I suppose.

The second one was ‘October Sky‘ – a ‘biopic’ kinda film – once again about exercising choices and hope. A fine film, no cinematic hijinx, no techniques, no layering of stories – nothing. It would have bordered on the melodrama, if the story were to be pure fiction – but the story is based on the struggles and DIY efforts of a NASA scientist (who persists and against odds emerges chasing and realizing his dreams) and the children liked it too…

Overall, it was good to see the children observe that there are/were coalmines and dusty environments and underprivileged children and ‘strict’ parents and ‘son taking up father’s professsion’ and ‘obeying & disciplined children’ to everything else – even in USA! Anyway, the kind of images that one develops using those infernal Archies comics and swashbuckling Schwarzneggars and trashy films to stereotype USA, had better be reconstructed, what?

May be they should see that majorly underrated film – once again based on coal mines and politics – John Sayles’ Matewan. We would sir, we would!

We wanted them to see good/reasonable films, even though they are not in the class of, say, a ‘Shichinin no Samurai’ – just to help them unwind, especially when they have promised to curtail their TV and Internet time! Oh, I should tell you this – very cheerfully (hic!), the children have volunteered to stay away from TVand Internet thingies and focus on nonTV things at home – and spend at best, 1 hour per week in front of the offending idiotbox and the computer monitor.

This is only a trial and let us see how this works.

I wish them goodluck! 🙂

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  • sipayi  On April 26, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I remember The Shawshank Redemption; trust me, it is best the way it is. Kubrick does not mark the summit of movie direction. Seen “Eyes Wide Shut”?

    I am nobody to comment on how every kid has to be taught; I can only list my beliefs.
    I believe kids should never be exposed to the harsh realities of life. There is a time and moment in their life they would realize it; however, that is not part of education. Education should teach the absolutes; at least, not at this tender age. The shades of gray are for discovering and realizing over a lifetime.

    Isn’t The Shawshank Redemption too strong for kids? There are several horrific scenes: beating someone to death, forced acts of homosexuality.

    That said, let me add, it is tough call. I try to choose good movies for my kid, and I definitely know how challenging it is. Art house movie for my kid? I am not sure. Cartoon movies appease to kids; it is wholesome fun. Also, there definitely are many with ‘artsy content’.
    How about the all time great “Toy Story”? Teaches kids to take care of the world; to imagine everything in the world has life.
    Seen “A Bug’s Life”? That is another gem. Teaches many important values: handling bullies, teamwork, being different, creativity…
    “Ratatouille”? Have you ever tried to see the world from a downtrodden society? Every tried to understand someone fully before dismissing them because of their background?
    Got kids who want to cut classes? There is the classic “Pinocchio”.
    Have difficulty telling your kids to listen to your ‘safety advice’? We have “Finding Nemo”.

    I would suggest “Chicken Run” (2000) instead of “The Shawshank Redemption.” Similar theme, similar message, I believe.

  • Ramjee Swaminathan  On May 1, 2009 at 11:59 am


    Thanks for surfacing.

    The films were shown to children between 12-15 years of age – and coming to think of it, these young folks are much, much more aware of things and goings-on in this world than I was (at their age) or even am now! So perish the thought about showing bestiality and dark dungeons of the human mind to really young kids! I wouldn’t do that and even if I try pushing it sideways, I will be shot pronto by nammashaale folks, which would include my spouse!

    Thanks for the film suggestions – and I will keep them in mind. But, all these flicks are shown repeatedly on regular TV channels, I think. And in anycase, I would much rather prefer to show them a harrowing ‘nuit et brouillard’ than an insipid ‘shun dang silly on air’or some Aamir Khan do.

    We (meaning the adolescents, which would include yours truly) did some work on Africa – got to know a little bit about Darfur and Rwanda. We are planning to view this film as part of that excursion -‘Sometimes in April’ – which I recommend strongly, not for your child though.

    Thanks to Arvind Gupta, the old DD serial ‘Tamas’ is available at Google videos – ‘see’ that if you have the time. You may recollect having seen this Govind Nihalani serial on DD ages back…

    Please post your views.

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