Such a Long Journey

Hi folks.

It turns out the main office is closed in the evening. I thought this was a temporary change, but it looks permanent. Jaewon was nice enough to provide some file storage at Clubbox, so you can download your version of the film we watched today, to watch again before next class.

Here is the film. You don’t need to be a Clubbox member — though the download will be faster if you are one! — but you do need to use Internet Explorer in Windows. (Clubbox uses an old-fashioned ActiveX control so it won’t work in Firefox or other browsers!)

Remember, this is for educational purposes and delete the film (or buy it) after we’ve finished the semester. (But hang onto it for a while, as we will come back to the movie later in semester and talk more about it.)

About the list of things I asked you to think about, here are the ones I mentioned in class, plus a few more:

  • the history and background of this story in Bombay (now Mumbai) during 1971, during the outbreak of the Bangladesh Liberation War. The history of the bloody and painful Partition of India is probably also somewhat relevant though it is not directly discussed. By the way, this is the Prime Minister who is mentioned and whose voice is heard on the train, declaring this war.
  • the conversation that Dinshawji and Gustad have about whether names are important, and the changing of names in India at the time (from European to Indian names, generally… Bombay changing to Mumbai is an example that came later…)
  • the interaction between Lohri (the secretary) and Dinshawji (the old friend): what is going on in their interaction? Does her fashion suggest anything interesting about her character and differences related to other characters in the story?
  • the relationship between Sohrab (the oldest son) and his father Gustad
  • the significance of Tehmul among the other Parsis in the building where they live
  • the meaning of all the black magic being used by the woman upstairs
  • the significance of the wall, from the beginning to the end of the story, with special attention to the image of the wall that is painted on the wall itself and what happens to it at the end
  • the sense you get of how Gustad and the other Parsi people live in a multicultural India — if we can agree that India is multicultural(and if not, why not?)
  • the fact that this film is a Canadian-Indian co-production directed by an Icelandic-Canadian using a script written by an Indian writer who attended Harvard and NYU and is now living in Mumbai, and the film is based on a novel by an Indian-born novelist who emigrated to Canada in 1975 and is now considered on of Canada’s most important novelists

You don’t need to think about all these things, but be ready to talk about a few that you find most interesting. The question of the wall is the one I find most interesting, by the way. But we’ll try to get to most of the points, with extra time next week if we need it.

Finally, of course please prepare a preparation paper as usual, just like you would for the discussion of a text you have read. (We can call a film a “text” since we must “read” it… that’s what literature professors who study films call them, anyway!)

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