Wild Strawberries

Ingmar Bergman

It’s cinematic poetry at its best. A romantic and nostalgic road movie it looks at old age, familial relationships, human traits and the art of coming to terms with it all. Crafted by the master of dark and deep cinema, this can be called the most compassionate and hopeful of his creations. The movie traces a long drive from Stockholm to Lund during which the protagonist, Prof. Isak Borg meets co-passengers and relives episodes from his life. The final reconciliation is in bidding adieu with a peaceful smile - symbolic of accepting life and death. Victor Sjostrom brilliant acting carries the film.

Red Beard

Akira Kurosawa

An epic film beautiful as well as compassionate, it is much likes its character, Dr. Niide, austere, gentle, deep and shorn of anything superfluous. The film is based on the relationship between two doctors — young, city-bred, ambitious Dr. Yasumoto ((Yûzô Kayama) and old wizened autocrat with a heart of gold, Dr. Niide also called the Red Beard (played by Toshirô Mifune). The dream like film delves deep into questions of medical ethics, human emotions, the role of a doctor, healing and death with sensitivity and unparalleled beauty. The scenes conjure up moods and feelings through light and shade while the musical score is haunting and healing at the same time.

Babette’s Feast

Gabriel Axel

A Danish film, based on a story by Isak Dinesen, this heart warming tale delightfully takes a dig at rigid norms, social practices and customs with sensitivity and understated humour. A French culinary expert, lands up in a remote village in Denmark as housekeeper to two elderly women with their own rigid, monotonous routine. The movie is about an expensive feast that changes their lives.

Schindler’s List

Steven Spielberg

An epic movie that unflinchingly shows the depths to which human society can fall and still instill a sense of hope. The narrative is centered around Oskar Schindler, a German who saves many Jewish lives during the Holocaust. The black and white frames — especially the one in the latrine pit — leaves one disturbed and stunned with pain and shame.

Philadelphia

Jonathan Demme

One of the first mainstream films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, discrimination and homophobia. For most part an excellent court room drama about interpretations and intentions, at the centre is the protagonist — Beckett, a lawyer, a homosexual with AIDS and dying. With sterling performances by Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, the film empathises without pity, evokes pain without shame and is relevant today even 20 years after its release.

Those that almost made it

Yentl: Barbara Streisand

The Accused: Jonathan Kaplan

Glass Menagerie: Paul Newman

Gandhi: Richard Attenborough

Driving Miss Daisy: Bruce Beresford

Life Is Beautiful: Roberto Benigni

Korzack: Andrejz Wajda

Jaya Iyer is an artist, teacher and activist who lives in Delhi. She loves watching movies that are deep and evocative of the lives around us.