Friday, June 25, 2010


What’s the first impression of well made film? The beginning which grips and absorbs us to the world of screen where plot, story telling and characters let us forget the real world around for next couple of hours and the ending which blow your senses and it’s an experience permanently locked in your memory. ‘The Conversation’ is brilliantly made film from Hollywood’s insurmountable director Francis Ford Coppola. I must say that technically and individually it marks Coppola’s auteur status along with his three other masterpieces that he made in 80’s back to back, one after another. It was peak of his career and decade of Coppola - ‘The Godfather’ (1972), ‘The Godfather II’ and ‘The Conversation’(1974), ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979). Needless to say whatever he made after these always considered average and inferior by audience and critics.

Back to another brilliant opening scene of Coppola film (need I say the first one!) where distorting and indistinct sounds and slowly zooming camera alert us to pay all our ears and eyes focused on two strangers circling around and conversing with each other among crowded street of New York and within moments we are slowly introduced to the world of professional sound recorder Harry Caul and it’s his 42nd birthday. He’s intriguing and enigmatic expert living alone in an apartment room locked by three separate locks and an intruding alarm, having a personal telephone unknown to anybody. Even his girlfriend doesn’t know anything personal and private about his life and career. He hates men asking questions. Harry is obsessed professional who constantly rewind, forward and pause his recorded tapes and paying all his ears to scrutinize the meaning behind all cacophony.

Coppola made an unpredictable and gripping film which slowly and steadily gives you jolts. The plot reminds me Antonioni’s classic ‘Blow Up’; surely an influence for Coppola to make this. There’re some close similarities between lead players too. If Antonioni’s original version is about a professional photographer’s desperation to find the truth, here its madness of sound expert to find the hidden crux of the matter. No, it’s not curiosity of human nature that dragged these guys to hunt for real truth but a challenging and intriguing material that dragged them towards madness to seek the minute detailing. Unfolding the puzzle is their only sense of personal goal. But what happens when poor Harry knows the truth; well you better watch the film.

Gene Hackman is the man to watch as Harry Caul, arguably his one of the most committed performance of career. Fine ragtime piano and saxophone played in background score. Editing is extraordinary especially great use of sound montage editing creating intriguing to chilling mood from beginning to climax. Sound editor Walter Murch deserves standing ovation along with Coppola as a writer and director.

Like great beginning the ending is striking too and not all great films strikes like this. The tapes are rolling constantly in Harry’s mind, he’s feeling paranoiac hallucinations in hotel room and back home a secret telephone is ringing and revealing that the bugger is bugged physically or to be more precise mentally!!! Camera slowly shows us the state of distorted home symbolizing his own mind. What a play with subjective and objective truth!!!

Coppola again made me speechless.

Ratings- 10/10

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