Films based on real life incidents are hit or miss affairs. Either they click and elevate to the pantheon of good films or they pale and descend to the alley of ordinary films. I watched two films today at IFFK; both are based on real incidents in 1960s. The first film, The Little Rose, a Polish film directed Jan Kidawa-Blonski, has an irresistible blend of love, passion, politics, and intrigue. The second film, My Mongolian Mother is a Chinese film, directed by Ning Cai, is the story of 3000 orphans transported to Mongolia for adoption after the heavy floods in Shanghai in the early 1960s.
The Little Rose
You can approach this film in many angles. It can be the story of a writer-professor who writes and acts against the government. Or it can be the story of a pretty woman caught up between a police officer and the professor. Or it can be a neat portrayal of Poland in 1967. The most striking angle obviously is the plight of the woman, who was asked to spy on the professor by her police man lover. The police officials desperately want to prove that the professor is a Jew, working for Zionists. The film has the Israel-Arab war in 1967 in the backdrop. But the elegant charm of the professor’s attracts the spy and soon she changes sides. This infuriates her original lover, and he becomes blind with rage and jealousy.
The person emerges strongly from the debris of emotions in the end is the woman, Little Rose, which is her code name as a spy. The film shows how she metamorphoses into a mature and strong-willed woman from a passionate damsel.
This is not a typical three-way love story, but a film in which politics, passion, and humour are expertly merged together. Certainly a hit, as far as making films from real life incidents goes.
My Mongolian Mother
The film, set in the vast Mongolian grass lands, tell the story from the angle one of the orphans, who were taken to Mongolia from China in the early 1960s. His mother brought two of the orphans, despite suffering many forms of hardships during the process. When they are ready to stand on their own, their original parents come to take them back. This provides emotional problems for both the Mongolian mother and her adopted children. But she is all poise and grace during such a crunch time.
The film has a magnificent setting and an emotionally gripping story. But somehow the film stops short of creating the magic that good films trigger in the spectators’ mind. I would rate it as a miss, as far as making films from real life incidents goes.