In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_americanfable-poster_web

American Fable

American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.

Thumb_get_out

Get Out

We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Sundance Archives

Reviews

Siddhartha

  |  

Conrad Rooks’ “Siddhartha” is a film of great grace and beauty, but somehow it failed to move me. I was expecting to emerge from the theater in a sort of mild metaphysical glow; instead, I felt like seeing another movie. I think the problem may be with the film’s length. It’s a standard feature-length production, and that may simply be too long for the very thin material of Hermann Hesse’s novel.

Advertisement

Rooks had a problem from the beginning. If he had taken Hesse’s fable and jazzed it up, trying to pump more interest into the movie, he would have offended the Hesse cultists (of whom there are said to be millions, every one of them unknown to me). On the other hand, by staying with the source material, he has produced a movie of great interest to Hesse lovers but rather slow and simplistic for everyone else.

The movie is an allegory, set 2,500 years ago, about a young man who sets out one day to discover the secrets of life. We follow him until his death many years later, and along the way we see him accumulate wealth and then dispose of it, fall in love and then renounce carnal pleasures, and finally discover that truth lies within himself and can never be taught. At the end we are happy for Siddhartha, but we wonder (in the words of the famous British election cry), what about the workers? And what about us? Thanks for nothing, Siddhartha.

The movie is good to look at: Rooks worked with Sven Nykvist, who at the time was photographing all of the Ingmar Bergman films. The trouble is that the movie’s almost too pretty. We get sunsets and vistas and slow-moving rivers and dust in the sunlight and magnificent Indian settings (man-made and real). And against all of this splendor, the activities of the characters seem somehow unreal and not crucial. It’s as if the people in the movie always thought of themselves in silhouette and back-lit. As a general rule, characters shouldn’t act as if they know they’re in a movie. It distracts us, and it distracts them.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Oscar's History of Pickiness

At the ripe age of 89, Oscar can still be a notoriously picky fellow when it comes to what constitutes a contender fo...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" an Unfunny Parody of Sadness

A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus