Deepa Mehta makes movies that have to be made.
I thought the quality of some of the bonus features could have been better.
Water is the tale of Chuyia. An Indian girl who is married at a very young age and then widowed. If her situation didn't already sound bad, it gets much worse because according to the customs of that time (when Ghandi was coming to power), Chuyia must leave her home to live with other widows "in penitence." This is actually where the story begins as Chuyia has an effect on every person she comes across. Soon others start to question the rules of society as well as their own feelings and ideas.
Okay, Water isn't the kind of film that you're going to find playing at a frathouse on the weekend. It is a thickly layered film, made with the tenderness and warmth that this material demands. Deepa Mehta has told a tale that I am sure very few have ever heard before. In addition to that, what she had to go through in order to get this movie made is nothing short of extraordinary.
Story Behind the Making Of Water and a Behind the Scenes Featurette
I decided to put both of these together simply because they cover a lot of the same ground. The most interesting being how Deepa Mehta originally started to shoot this film in India. She was given clearance from the government and everything. So she starts shooting and there are mobs there! They destroy the film crew's equipment, burn Mehta in effigy and generally make it so she can't shoot. It turns out they felt the film was anti-Hindu, even though the government gave her permission! So, being the stalwart that Mehta is, she let her anger subside and then resumed making this movie in Sri Lanka five years later.
Deepa Mehta has a pensive quality to her voice. She is also quite serious, which I guess, considering the subject matter, makes sense. She explains the themes of Water, how the main actress Sarala had to learn all her lines phonetically (they still keep in touch since the shoot), the reasons for her camera style, and why she didn't want to use Bollywood actors and actresses. As a side note, it was Mehta's mother who pointed out that she should cast John Abraham in the film who in fact had been in Bollywood films.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.35:1. This movie looks awesome. Deepa Mehta has made a film that almost hypnotizes you as you watch it. The camera moves, the zooms, and all the other film language happens at a measured place. While at times I though the look was a bit too sterile, overall I really found myself drawn into the world that Mehta has put across on screen. Also, the compression that Fox has employed is top notch.
Dolby Digital. Hindi - 5.1 - Dolby Surround. Subtitled in English and Spanish. My biggest problem with this movie is that since it was in Hindi, I wasn't able to pay attention to Mehta's use of sound. Also, as I was reading what was on screen, I couldn't rightly pay attention to all the subtle things Deepa did with her camera. Unfortunately, that is about all I can offer in the audio department.
This front cover features our main adult characters with the films tiny protagonist tucked into the bottom right hand corner. There is a reflective, airy quality about this cover that I think works well with the film. The back portion offers up a bunch of images from the movie, a succinct description of the film's story, a cast list, and some technical specs. Overall, I think this packaging might be seen as too arty by some, but it does present the film accurately.
I interviewed Deepa Mehta for this movie's DVD release and I remember thinking that I wasn't really "worthy" of the honor. Afterall, this woman had to endure so much to bring this story to the screen, and like many independent movies, it has to struggle in the marketplace against other blockbusters. When you consider that this film came from 20th Century Fox, that makes the plight of filmmakers like Mehta even worse because A) they have the studio muscle behind their film but B) they've still got to compete against that same studio's blockbusters.
Water is one of those films that should be celebrated a lot of more than it is. It is a story of belief in oneself against amazing odds, and the fact that it even exists is a testament to the fortitude and inner stamina of it's creator.
Water was released September 8, 2005.