August 14, 2013

My thoughts after watching The Conjuring

Honestly, I'm no horror movie fan as they give me creeps and I just don't enjoy that kind of cinema. Drama is more like my genre as I find it engaging. Anyways, I had to watch The Conjuring thanks to my fiancée (I'm going to ensure that he returns the favor :P). It was a good horror movie (not sure if I can really judge - I don't have any benchmark to compare and besides, I closed my eyes during half the movie!) and you can gather the rest from reviews.

This is one review which struck me though and I'm in agreement with it: Andrew O'Hehir of Salon said the film provided "all the scream-inducing shocks you could want, right on schedule", but thought the central conceit -- that the innocent women accused and executed in the Salem witch trials "actually were witches, who slaughtered children and pledged their love to Satan and everything!" -- was "reprehensible and inexcusable bullshit".

I'm glad somebody mentioned it! Yup - the Salem witch trials. It's important to remember it - History teaches some invaluable lessons. The episode is one of the most notorious cases of mass hysteria, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and lapses in due process.The lesson on religious beliefs and blind faith is worth remembering. History has repeatedly shown us how fallible human judgment is, even when people believed that they were absolutely right. Remember black death and burning of the Jews?

And reading the details about Salem witch trials makes us feel that the whole episode is so absurd. It was the end product of a few attention seekers who claimed to be possessed, a Church which blindly believed in what they considered as religious doctrine, a community which didn't know about rational and scientific thinking and paranoia created in people because of a few out of the box occurrences (weird behavior). Let's remember the episode before preaching/practising religion blindly, before we jump to proposing supernatural explanations for things which we don't yet understand through science and most importantly, before we choose blind faith over rationality.

Another question which came to my mind was 'Why does this horror movie have to consider Christianity as the absolute religion and Christian religious doctrine as the absolute religious doctrine?' Holy water is considered absolutely holy, exorcism can be performed only by a Christian, reference to the holy trinity etc. Come to think of it - Most horror movies have storylines which assume one particular religious doctrine as absolute - based on the religion most prominent among the respective target audience. For me, this itself makes me discredit Ed and Lorraine's story. All religious beliefs are fallible as they just came from some human minds belonging to a particular era and geography. Stories around Jesus, concept of holy trinity, holy water, Satan are all figments of human imagination. Don't you think technically, even if the Devil did exist, like God, Devil wouldn't consider any one religion as absolute? After all, both are susceptible to the imagination of each mind!

Something naïve

Try this - watch an old Amitabh movie from the bell-bottom era and see how it feels like. I was discussing movies with my fiancée and I remembered how I felt like when I watched Andaaz Apna Apna and Amar, Akbar and Anthony last year. There's something charmingly amusing about the simplicity and innocence of the life in that era. It's the same naiveté which I adored about the first part of Om Shanti Om. It's touching and somehow makes me smile for Ohmy even when he considers changing his surname to become successful in bollywood, even when he talks to Shanti's poster coyly declaring his love and when he does so many other things which we obviously find stupid today. Life back then was different and when we see it from present day, you can't help but wonder - how naïve could those people be! And it also makes us realize how we might be perceived by our future generations... But given that, do I say that old is always gold? Not necessarily. We are evolving constantly and in the process, we're bound to become less ignorant as we gather more knowledge with each generation. That's how we progress. But somehow in our hearts we can always relate to innocence, just as we love childhood even as we grow old.