A segregated trolley in New Orleans

Les Américains: A Narrative on the Segregated America

Robert Frank is an American photographer and documentary filmmaker. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, he emigrated to United States in 1947. His father was a German Jew. During Second World War, his family became stateless. They migrated to Switzerland and obtained the Swiss passport.


Les Américains

Robert Frank

Robert Frank

Les Americains was first published in France in 1958 and a year later in the USA. Popularly known as The Americans, it was a book based on post-war photography containing still-photos from his trip around the US. He took his family along with him for part of his series of road trips over the next two years, during which time he took 28,000 shots. 83 of these were selected by him for the publication.

The book initially received harsh criticism in the USA, where the tone of the book was perceived as derogatory to national ideals.

It was the analysis of cultural and social themes of the then contemporary America, where, Segregation was common and rampant. The tensions between the optimism of the 1950s and the realities of class and racial differences.

The irony that Frank found in the gloss of American culture and wealth over this tension gave his photographs a clear contrast to those of most contemporary American photojournalists, as did his use of unusual focus, low lighting and cropping that deviated from accepted photographic techniques.


Memorable Stills

A segregated trolley in New Orleans

A segregated trolley in New Orleans

The Elevator

The Elevator

Young girl smoking a cigarette

Young girl smoking a cigarette

An Italin couple

An Italin couple

sitting-talking

Sitting

Water fountain down the South

Water fountain down the South

Driveway

Driveway

Busy diner down the South

Busy diner down the South

Public park, Michigan

Public park, Michigan

New York

New York

At cremation ground

At cremation ground

Newspaper stand

Newspaper stand

A nurse carrying a baby

A nurse carrying a baby

At Butte, Montana

At Butte, Montana

A couple riding on a bike

A couple riding on a bike

Barber shop through screen door

Barber shop through screen door

The American Flag

The American Flag

 

Copyright @Les Americains, Frank Robert

email-open-times

How to Compose Your (Travel) Sales Email?

As pointed out in my previous article @How to Sell? 10 Tips for Travel Agents

The average industry rate for online trip bookings in Nepal is a mere 15%-20% of the total inquiries received. The lower rate of conversion is a sign of major faults in the sales practice, however, out of thousands of travel agencies only handful of them ever realize this issue.

Email is the ice-breaker. It helps set a path for future endeavors. The essential part of making a relationship with your customer is through a prompt and chivalrous reply to their emails. All you have to do is play nice and to the point!

As most sales take place online today, sales agents tend to make a grave mistake of taking email correspondence for granted, hence losing most of their customers even before getting to make an offer.

The prevalent practice in Nepal has been the copying of a certain email format from some travel agent and adding own words to it. This method has been repeated for hundreds of times, therefore, rendering the end result a poorly formatted copy with many grammatical errors and off-the-point pep talk.

Instead, if you focus on the basics of email correspondence and make a point of simplistic presentation, you could reduce the chance of email bounce and achieve higher likability of getting a positive response.

In most cases, respondents do not reply because they find the email irrelevant or poorly addressed.


3 BASIC CONCEPTS OF SALES EMAILS

#1 THE OPENER

This is what the recipient sees in the inbox. It consists of the Subject and the first 20 or so words of the email.

Most sales agents tend to add their company’s history, mission, motto and other lengthy stuffs in it which ultimately increases the size of the opener, hence, giving more reasons for a reader to discard it. Lengthy openers are boring and off the point. Instead, you need to offer immediate response to their question, and to keep their interest intact when they move down the email.

Example: (A Reply to Basic Sales Inquiry)

[Hi/Hello] [Respondent's first name],

I hope you're having a great day. Thank you for your email regarding [Trip ABC]. I'm glad to assist you with the information for this trip.

#2 THE BENEFIT

The major chunk of any email. It elaborates on the trip and its benefits, availability, advantages and other essential information to get their interest going.

Example:

{Opener}
 The [Trip ABC] requires you to register for a special permit, which may cost $$. The cost for hiring guide/porter is the standard rate of $$, however, hiring a porter is optional.

The trip listed in our official website is an inclusive package and covers the entire cost for the trip, along with fringe expenses along the way.

To tell you more, the [destination] was officially opened for the tourists in 1991. A protected area, it is home to some of the most exquisite flora and fauna. Some 33 species of mammals, including; Snow leopard, Musk deer and Himalayan tahr, are found in this area. The [days] trek is enough to offer you pleasures of immersing in the local environment, while observing ethnic lifestyle and some of the best sights of surrounding mountains.

Please write back your preferred date for this trip. and, I will help you find a group to join, or, in case of unavailability, I shall organize a private trip for you with no extra expenses.

#3 THE CLOSER

If the closer is simple and easy, you get a response. If it’s complicated and onerous, you don’t. Add CTA (Click Through Action) if needed, or keep it open so they can write you back with further queries.

Example:

{Opener}
 {Benefit}
 To learn more about this trip, visit @www.xyz.com/xyz..

Feel free to call or email me if you have any questions.

Sincerely Yours,
 [Your Name]
 [Designation], [Company's name]
 [000-000-0000]
 [www.xyz.com]

Email Giveaways

  • Never response with a lengthy email. People seldom read the email completely.
  • Never attach files or images unless they have specifically asked for it. Attachment increases the size of an email, hence, it takes more time to download it.
  • Keep it cool. They wrote you first, so you don’t need to act on impulse and keep conversation short and up to the point.
  • Don’t offer multiple CTAs in the email. There’s likely chance that they won’t click any of it.
  • Don’t start giving offers/incentives/discounts unless they have asked or desired for it. Giveaway in the first email makes you look desperate.
  • Do not copy from your competitors, instead, use formatted samples from the experts available online. It saves time and extra work.

Write to salman.thegurung@gmail.com for feedback, business proposition, talk or face à face.

circuit-trekkers-along-with-sherpa

How to Sell? 10 Tips for the Travel Agents in Nepal

A typical sales process is made of 4 basic elements;

  1. Finding the prospect (Potential Customer)
  2. Pitching the prospect
  3. Making a relationship
  4. Maintaining the relationship

Sales is the most rigorous and monotonous activity in a business, yet the most important of all. From finding the prospect (Marketing, Advertisement & Cold Calls) to making a relationship (Sign-ups and Bookings), everything is done with the purpose to bring in the sales and ROI.

The greater problem in Nepal’s tourism industry is, the most travel agents lack the basic idea of selling, hence, lower return in sales.

You shouldn’t mistake your customer’s receptivity for your sales skills but their own interest.

The average industry rate for online trip bookings is a mere 15%-20% of the total inquiries received.

The lower rate of conversion is a sign of major faults in the sales practice, however, out of thousands of travel agencies only handful of them ever realize this issue and care to improve it, mainly because, most agents do not come from sales background nor they worry about analyzing the conversion data to improve or update their sales skill.

The only effort in alluring the customers has been through cashing on those prospects who have already made up their mind or by offering heavily discounted deal (incentive) against other agencies’ offers. This results in discrepancy in the prices throughout the industry, which later hurts the travel agencies from falling prices and less ROI.

A Sad Fact is, nobody really cares about the data in this industry, unless you’re an analyst or researcher. Choosing to make the same mistake time and again and getting away with has been the norm.

6 Questions Travel Agents must Address

  • Why would a prospect leave my offer and go with someone else?
  • Why would a prospect never reply to my emails?
  • Have I been pitching my offer wrong the entire time?
  • Have I been treating the prospect wrong the entire time?
  • Why haven’t I been able to convert most of my email inquiries?
  • Do I lower the price to allure the customers or bring up the overall service?

As mentioned in my previous blog @State of Tourism in Nepal, travel agents refuse to look beyond the present market trends. The lack of vision/passion in finding new markets, trends or services will only render you obsolete in the future and prevent you from growing exponentially.


Here are 10 Basic Tips on Improving Sales Activity

  1. Know your Prospect -Prepare yourself before selling a product to your prospect. The art of selling relies on how well prepared you are to learn more about your customer’s needs, moreover, analyze their age, sex, culture, spending habit and other activities to determine a detailed profile. The better profiling helps you differentiate and serve the customers with certain tastes. (Same applies in marketing)
  2. Cover the Insights -You can only sell when you are familiar with your own product. Lack of insights is what irate the customers most. Insights of product comes from personal experiences, feedback or extensive research. Prepare and pitch the itinerary to let your customers feel that they are present at the destination, by evoking their emotions.
  3. Clarity & Patience – “The idea is not to sell on the first meeting.” A prospect contacts you when they are already interested but haven’t made up their mind. They need a fervent push before they can actually commit to pay. Those who have already made their mind will book instead. Therefore, understanding the need before initiating sales pitch may help to hold your prospects’ interest for a longer time. Don’t jump the gun!
  4. Beat the cliche -Stop copying others, be it their email formats or the way they converse. Prospects love to listen. They will listen to anyone who is willing to talk, however, they’ll always chose the one who stands out. These cliches account for the vicious circle of ill marketing. Most of the time, copying others may result in copying their faults too.
  5. Ask for feedback/reviews -Always ask for feedback before signing them up and after the end of the trip. In case of bad reviews, addressing them promptly helps in preventing the mistake from happening again, as well as, offer discounts or other incentives to the customer before they discourage others to use your service in the future. Precaution is better than cure!
  6. Offer incentive -Everyone looks for an incentive to commit for something. If your offer sounds less useful, they will choose to go with some other company who promises a better deal. A better deal isn’t always the discounted price but incentives, an incentive is defined by the overall trip experience (agency’s experience, guide’s experience/knowledge, better accommodation, customer services etc).
  7. Never misled or oversell -Most negative reviews arise when a sales agent oversells owns product or service, or mislead the customer in believing something that doesn’t exist. If you wish to avoid getting bad reviews in TripAdvisor and a position where you have to clarify your mistakes, then do start following ethical sales practices.
  8. Stick to the conversation medium -A prospect chooses a medium they are comfortable in. If a person chooses to email you, you do not call them up with your offer unless they allow you to. Similarly, if they chose to talk via Facebook or Twitter, you stick to that medium unless they fell necessary to switch it to any other mediums. They often feel reluctant to share their private information via online form for the harassing calls they may later receive from the marketers.
  9. Maintain a Brand“A brand never lies!” The sustenance of your agency relies completely on your brand image. The brand value grows when you are willing to accept the mistakes and change yourself. Hundreds of good reviews won’t rescue you when you may receive one bad review for your ill service. Make a point to invest in customer service, marketing mediums and ethical sales practices to grow the brand in the long run.
  10. Email Ethics & Prevalent Practices -Email is the ice-breaker. It helps to start a conversation. The idea is not to harass the reader. The email should be kept brief and to the point. The idea is to compel the reader to hit the reply button.As most sales take place online, sales agents make a grave mistake of taking email correspondence for granted, hence losing most of their customers before even getting to make an offer. (I’d be talking about Email ethics and practices in the detail in my next pulse)

A lengthy, poorly formatted and off-topic email often end up in Spam. Similarly, an email with grammatical errors and typos results in being :Unread or read incomplete.

chinese-tourist-kathmandu

State of Tourism in Nepal: Before & Hereafter

Nepal is way smaller to notice in the world map, however, there are very few people around the world who haven’t read or heard about it. Since the commercialization of mountaineering in the 80s, Nepal has experienced a new wave of tourism in the country. In the last 30 years, it has seen many smaller and larger upheavals.

Here are some insightful facts on Nepal’s tourism industry; along with the prevalent problems and remedial measures for its improvement, I have noticed and experienced in my time in the industry.


FACTS

  • A survey led by Nepal Rastra Bank in 2014 for economic activities report suggested, Nepal can accommodate almost 7.44 million tourists annually with its existing infrastructure. Yet, we only receive 700,000 to 800,000 tourists annually, a mere 10% of our potential.
  • Even with 1,198 trekking agencies registered in TAAN (Trekking Agencies Association), thousands of Star-rated/Non-rated hotels, lodges and guest houses, and numerous outdoor agencies, Nepal has served a way lesser number of tourists compared to its counterparts, India (the 38th most visited country) and China.
  • In India, tourism contributed 6.7% of India’s total GDP in 2014, which roughly sums up to $159.72 Billion, whereas, Nepal’s tourism contributed 5.4% of the GDP, amounting for a mere $3.61 Billion.
Tourism Contribution GDP 2014
  • Gay/LGBT Tourism is one of the most potential tourist marketplace in the world. GETA suggests, the gay tourism holds a worldwide market value of $200 Billion, however, Nepal has been a low achiever in this arena, primarily because of the lack of knowledge about the new market and skepticism to adopt new marketing trends. (Source)
    Tourism helps produce employment, More than 450,000 jobs were created in 2014 solely from tourism, the highest in the history. Many more can depend on tourism to raise their income via service, primarily, those who reside in remote areas of the country.

CURRENT STATUS

#1 Promotion

‘Visit Nepal 1998’ a government led campaign was the last most successful tourism campaign ever introduced by the state to bring in more tourists. Most campaigns introduced either from the government or Nepal Tourism Board have been mediocre in results. Visit Nepal 2011 failed to grasp any attention from the tourists.

With the advent of internet in the early 2000s, private sector (Travel agencies and hotels) has been the major precursor in promoting Nepal on a global scale. The occasional travel marts and fair helped, that even in a limit due to physical constraints.

The recent trend of promoting one’s agency online helped in creating enormous amount of useful information in various medium; website, blogs, video and forums, for the world to see and read. Most readership on Nepal’s tourism rely mainly on blogs and journals promoted by private agencies. The major chunk of tourism sales today are made via Google Adwords and online referrals. Third party agents have subsided in the last 5 years, whereas, online marketing and promotion has increased 30x.

Around $4.5-6 million is spent on online advertising and promotions by the private sectors in Nepal annually.

#2 Trade

The trade relies mainly on the private agencies and hotels, along with the government as only a facilitator. Agencies help promote the product and bring in guests, the easily affordable and available hotels help to accommodate the guests, whereas, government facilitates permits and other official procedures to service them throughout their stay.

Most tourists visiting Nepal account for adventure travel. In average, 450,000 tourists visit Nepal every year to either trek, hike or mountaineering. Adventure travel helps generate most revenue for the country from the lengthy stay and the purchase of travel services.

Nepal earns $3 million alone from the climbing permit to the Mount Everest every year.

Hotels, on the other hand, profit mostly from the long staying guests, therefore, the sole approach of tourism has been to bring in and service long staying guests.


PREVALENT PROBLEMS

#1 Promotion

Promotion of tourism has truly relied on the private sector with least or none monitoring/guidance from the government. Private agencies tend to have a biased or limited marketing prospective. As seen in Nepal in the last 15 years, every agency has involved in promoting and profiting from only a set number of tourist destinations but the entire nation.

The term ‘Everest’ is the only (re)marketable brand ever used or available in Nepal. Most resources, agencies and staffs are appointed to cater the tourists visiting the Everest region, whereas, the different yet seemingly popular trails such as Annapurna, Dolpo, Mustang, Far East and Far West receive least attention from both the agencies and tourists.

Everest accounts for mere 5% of Nepal’s tourism, however, 98% of agencies rely solely on the Everest to achieve most of their profit.

This accounts for the vicious circle of ill marketing which alienates other potential tourism sectors in Nepal time and again. Due to the very trend, holiday-goers tend to notice only the overtly promoted tourist segment while remaining ill-informed or ignorant about the 95% of other available tourism services.

Post-Earthquake 2015, most promotions and re-branding has been done solely by the private sectors.

The combined effort of reassuring the world via informative blogs, visual contents, social media campaigns and word of mouth marketing helped regain most of the lost tourism. Most private agencies, yet went unnoticed, helped to bring the most amount of tourists in Nepal since the earthquake with their immense efforts via online promotions and viral marketing. Government played a minimal yet important role in reassuring tourists.

Moreover, post-earthquake, numerous private agencies pleaded global community to help build Nepal via financial support. Millions of dollars poured in the small nation through private agencies, where many of them chose to misappropriate the fund for personal use. How much of it has been used in the rebuilding process still remains a big question!

#2 Trade

The trade faltered post-earthquake, mainly because of the massive destruction of the infrastructures. Hotels and lodges were closed or refurbished before resuming the services, which discouraged tourists to visit or stay any longer in Nepal, hence, demoralizing the hotel industry.

Post-earthquake, the average length of stay dropped to mere 6 days, and occupancy of the hotel dropped below 20%

The post-constitution phase resulted in the blockade of imports of essential goods from India which added to the never-ending problems of the trade. Hotels and restaurants could hardly provide timely meal, heat or light to the guests, and agencies had to suffer mostly from poor transportation and lack of full-fledged accommodations.

Due to these constraints, the tourist arrival fell by 45% in 2015 compared to the same period in 2014. [Source]

Tourist arrival 2014-2015

REMEDIAL MEASURES

What Nepal possesses in natural and cultural riches, it lacks in planning and executions, mostly in the government or policy-making level.

  • The dogmatic practice of using Everest to promote a product won’t help in the future. It’s bound to loose its charm after a while. The government’s move to introduce new climbing peaks and cut the royalty for other popular peaks came as a positive sign to switch the attention from the Everest to other products, however, this will never be enough. An optimized use of other tourist destinations can only come into practice when the private agencies, which controls the major portion of the travel industry, and government shift their importance to other potential products.
  • If private agencies and the governing bodies (NTB, TAAN & NATTA) can urge themselves to explore and tap the newer and potential market segments, such as; billion dollar gay/lgbt tourism industry, it can help increase the total tourist arrival in the country, along with the growth in revenue and brand value.
  • The target of servicing 7.44 million tourists a year can only be possible when everyone involved in the tourism change their placid attitude and prevent from fighting with each other in a single market to work together for the goodwill of the entire industry.
  • The varying directions of the marketing approaches of the private agencies cannot help achieve a single goal unless the primary governing body steps in to help provide a straight direction to the entire industry. The competition to achieve mere sales target from the same itinerary among the private agencies won’t help the cause, nor will offering mere incentives to the guests to stay longer in the hotel. It is bound to end soon. The Vicious circle of ill marketing has to end!

Note:
$ = USD
Private agency/agencies/sector = Privately owned outdoor agencies

Copied from Linkedin PulseState of Tourism in Nepal

Nature Wonders [Photo Story]

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. [Regarder profondément dans la nature, et alors vous comprendrez tout mieux.]

~Albert Einstein


Stanley Kubrick Movie Montage

Mastering the Greatness in Cinema: Stanley Kubrick, 63 Years Later!

The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle. ~S.Kubrick


 

In LOVE with Stanley Kubrick

As confessed in my previous article on Room 237: Documentary, my love for Stanley Kubrick is undeniably a never ending saga of honesty and respect for his works. Starting from Fear & Desire (1953) and ending at Eyes Wide Shut (1999), every motion picture made by him managed to grasp my senses and left me bewildered for days. There are many things in his movies which I fear watching for the second time, some are very hilarious which I can never get enough of and few are a totally placid in almost every sense.

Watching the final sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey; when Dr. Bowman travels through the atmosphere of Jupiter (Planet) and the transition of him, a man, into a Starchild, left me delirious for hours. I fear watching the sequence for the second time.

When Peter Sellers donned the character of the Dr. Strangelove (A cynic, war mongering ex-Nazi ), I felt a sense of hilarity in the overall absurdity of colonial tensions between nations and at the very cause of war. Seller calling “Mein fuhrer” to the US President and adding a Nazi salute adds charm to the overall content of the movie. This is one scene, I can never get enough of.

The reason why critics and the then general audiences mauled Kubrick and his movies makes me smirk, because, they are the priceless pieces of a greater art. Despite, being ratified as worthless crafts by audiences back then, his movies, over the time, gained the massive cult status and his characters remain alive still today; Alex DeLarge, Hal 9000, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, you name’em.

His curious observation of the unseen and un-experimented subjects left us in awe; be it the subject of pedophilia in Lolita, ultra-futuristic theme of 2001: ASO or the taboo-ish jamboree of Illuminati groups, paganism and mass-orgy in Eyes Wide Shut. A perfectionist and constant improviser, Kubrick’s test with various genres, subject and time never failed him nor the audiences. A pioneer in many of cinematic achievements, he made his movies to quench his own discreet and sublime ideas and premises.

What made him Great?

Stanley Kubrick in his early days

Stanley Kubrick in his early days

A film-maker who never managed to win a single Oscar (Best Director), for which he can be considered the Leonardo DiCaprio of the Directors, but I must admit, he was out of the league entirely. He managed to make movies equal in realism to Italian Neo-realist cinema and in glamour to big-budget Bad ASS Superhero flicks of Hollywood; his is a versatile craft very few film-makers can ever master (Other being Steven Speilberg and Coen Brothers).

An adamant director and a thrifty producer, he never made a bad movie. Every one of his movies, over his filmy lifespan of 48 years in which he managed to make only 13 motion pictures and 3 short movies with an average of 4 years in between his next release, are considered the masterpiece of modern cinema. Rarity of commercial themes and budgets were common traits of his modus oeprandi, yet he never failed to deliver a finest product on the table.

2001: ASO, Spartacus and Barry Lyndon are ranked among the epics of Hollywood’s ever produced. Dr. Strangelove, Lolita and A Clockwork orange are among the highly lauded and critically acclaimed movies ever.

Most Clichéd about Kubrick

1. Slow and protracted scenes

Scenes from his movie 2001: ASO lasted for more than 15 minutes; when Dr. Bowman is pulled into a tunnel of colored light and other cosmological Shits of Jupiter, and also when he deactivates HAL (Hal 9000) for its mischief, which were weirdly long and slow. The sedated scenes often became the major trademarks of Kubrick’s craft which were later followed in Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.

Capturing the time and space of entirety of a particular sequence [2001: ASO] were followed religiously by Kubrick, for whom there were no cutting shorts. When a scene required to be long, he made them generously long.

 

2. Reverse tracking shots

After Hitchcock, Kubrick would be the one who popularized the dolly zoom method of tracking shots in the movies. The popular scenes from Paths of Glory tracking Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) walking in the trenches, A Clockwork Orange tracking Alex Delarge (Malcom McDowell) walking around the London mall and Gny. Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) and his recruits marching in Full Metal Jacket were all done using reverse tracking shots.

 

3. Subliminal messages

The Shining is probably most famous among audiences for the subliminal messages it purportedly tried delivering. The length of controversy of discreet messages went furor, even Rodney Ascher (Room 237) made a documentary film on it.

…as it happened!

#1 Lolita (1962)

Lolita happened in the spring of 1962. An independent venture of Kubrick and James B. Harris, Lolita became the most controversial movie of the time. Their experiment with the sensitive subject of pedophilia and lust landed the movie in troubles with the censors. The British Board of Film Censors rated the movie ‘X’ therefore, barring the audience under the age of 16.

Despite, the comments it may have received from the then audience and the critics later, Lolita opened up a space for film-makers to make and promote movies as they pleased.

#2 Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

The year 1964 began with the release of Dr. Strangelove or…, a comic take on Cold War and the brewing hatred between two giants of the World; USA and Russia. Assimilating the great cast, creating life like sets and adapting a dark story of war and nuclear weapon into major motion picture was quite a tough task for Kubrick.

Peter Sellers as the Dr. Strangelove himself and his alien hand syndrome, along with addressing the US president with “Mein Führer,” stole the show entirely. The implications of the movie is to portray the dire consequences of brewing hatred among two nuclear powers of the world, along with a comic gesture on what could happen to the world if a nuclear war is to take place!

#3 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The most challenging and expensive venture of Kubrick has to be none other than 2001: A Space Odyssey. Made in 60s’, it explored a Science-fiction tale of how the world, mankind and Space would land up in the 21st Century. Kubrick employed the specialists from the fields of science and technology, Arts, Special Effects and Sounds to give his movie a real-life like experience.

From building a rocket capsule to creating a cosmological phenomena of an unseen Jupiter’s atmosphere, he mastered the craft of making stories that are far-sighted and thoughtful.

Most critics and audiences panned the movie when it was first released. Today, it’s a cult and is used in reference to every possible space exploration movies made post-2001: ASO.

#4 A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The year 1971 ended with the horrors of Alex DeLarge‘s criminal past. As it happened, a controversial story of A Clockwork Orange established Kubrick as the film-maker who could make movies on any subject given, despite the level of visual intolerance it could render On-screen. Alex’s character portrays a sociopath; he glorifies rape, assault and loot. He’s an imagery of evil, yet the movie established him as a profound character of behavioral psychology and morality.

It’ was banned in UK for 27 years, following the controversy surrounding the violence occurred in the English society which were believed to be inspired by the movie.

#5 Barry Lyndon (1975)

Alex’s story was followed by the exploits of the 18th century Irish Adventurer in 1975, when the year ended with the Luck of Barry Lyndon. A movie of epic proportion, after Spartacus, Barry Lyndon explored the rise and fall of a hearty character –Barry Redmond, an Irishman who managed to experience the harshest treatments and sweetest pleasures the world has ever to offer.

3 hours long, the movie is considered one of the finest movies of Kubrick. Despite its rather slower and darker tone, the movie doesn’t fail to capture your attention and constant critical consensus. It’s a masterpiece!

Ryan O’Neal, donning a Victorian-aged suit with a curly blonde locks and quirky smile,  shines throughout his adventures in the movie.

#6 Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Professed as an Erotic-Thriller by the critics, Eyes Wide Shut took on the complex premise of Illuminati gathering and quasi-religious sexual rituals. Exploring the taboo subjects, Kubrick’s approach went towards showing how a regular family suddenly erodes because of the effects of unforced measures of relationships. Sexual fantasy, envy, dishonesty and boredom are its common themes.

Released few months after the death of its Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut remained his final ever project which marked his 13th motion picture and end of his career.


For complete Stanley Kubrick Filmography, The Kubrick Site and Kubrick Collection @WarnerBros

The 400 Blows cover photo

Review & Synopsis: The 400 Blows (1959), and Analyzing Post-WW II France

The 400 Blows (1959) presents the then France as it was. The troubled life of Antoine is saddening yet witty and his troubles glorify the grandeur of French Cinema. An important movie of the French new wave.

~Review~

Official Poster of The 400 Blows

The 400 Blows (1959), official poster

Seeing the Paris of 50s’ is like watching a Cabaret with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and Romeo y Juliet on the other. The black and white texture gives a stark contrast between the backdrop and the characters (The backdrop blends in with the scene and never once overshadows the forefront characters). The plots are simpler and the story is the simplest of them all. Can it be called a worthy contemporary of the Neo-realism? Well, Yes!

The 400 Blows explores the underlying ideas of post-war french society and its effects on the younger generation. Set in the 2nd half of 20th century, the time of greater inventions and sociopolitical improvements, the modus operandi is a clash between new and older France. Antoine Doinel (JeanPierre Léaud), the protagonist, carries the sole tiresome weight of the new wave cinema over his tiny shoulders throughout the movie. He, a figure of hope for every teenagers who have been struggling with their emotional tragedies and identity crisis, gives life to the troubled character of Antoine, a troublemaker.

François Truffaut’s (Director) approach has been to show the world his own younger life through a cinematic kaleidoscope. The movie may seem like the reflection of today’s world, because it’s about the everyday story of us. Other than the emotions and tragedy, he succeeded in adding some wit to the script, which could have been much more sadder than it’s generally seen.

To add further, The 400 Blows also belongs to an Escapist genre. The French New Wave it is, but it also carries the qualities of Escapist cinema. The protagonist and the very motive of the movie establish a point of escaping the brutal past, be it a personal troubled life or the scar left by the war. The then society is the very villain of the movie, and Antoine solely survives its wrath.

 ★★★★★/5

~Synopsis~

The movie starts with an opening scene showing Eiffel Tower of Paris, France.

The movie starts with an opening scene showing Eiffel Tower of Paris, France.

The All Boys School, the students are seen poking fun at the lecturer

The All Boys School, the students are seen poking fun at the lecturer

One of Antoine Doinel's classmate, dancing his way off the street

One of Antoine Doinel’s classmate, dancing his way off on the street, “Ah! Ah! Ah!..Stayin alive!!”

Children reacting while watching a Puppet show

Children reacting while watching a Puppet show

Antoine and his friend comprehends a double-crosser who tries stealing their typewriter

Antoine and his friend comprehends a double-crosser who tries stealing his typewriter

Antoine's thrown into a cell after he's nabbed by his father and after being handed over to the police

Antoine’s thrown into a cell after he’s nabbed by his father and is handed over to the police

Left: Antoine looking outside the police van, Right: He's crying over his unfortunte fate

Left: Antoine looking outside the police van, Right: He’s crying over his unfortunate fate

One of the most powerful scenes, Antoine makes a cigarette out of tobacco and stray paper inside his cell

One of the most powerful scenes, Antoine makes a cigarette out of tobacco and stray paper, inside his cell

Antoine's punished by the monitor of the Juvenile Detention Home for eating before everyone else started

Antoine’s punished by the monitor of the Juvenile Detention Home for eating before everyone else

3 young girls, probably aged 5-7, are locked up inside a cell of the Detention' Home

Another powerful scene; the 3 young girls, probably aged 5-7, are seen locked up inside a cell of the detention home.

Final scene of The 400 Blows

The protagonist, Antoine Doinel, runs away from the Detention in search of an unseen future –possibly, a happier one

 

Analyzing Post-WW II France

Post-WW II France, a nation formerly occupied and controlled by the Axis power, was built on an idea of escaping it’s horrendous past. To assimilate with the western nations, France introduced teaching English in their schools. Proper etiquette, better education and brighter future were as important the social issues back in France as they are now everywhere. The treatment of naivety was harsher with greater repercussions; nevertheless, the government believed that was the right way to improve its already ill-manifested denizens.

American Army trucks parade down the Champs-Elysées the day after the liberation of Paris by French and Allied troops, August 1944

American Army trucks parade down the Champs-Elysées, Aug 1944

The inhumane approach of treating the culprit was well observed in the then France. Children for their delinquency were reprimanded and isolated. [In one scene of the movie, 3 girls, possibly younger than 10, are seen caged inside the detention center. Those young kids left alone by their parents for their just misdeed are treated with such rebuke that even the current treatments of the correctional facilities around the world may seem childish.]

French new wave took an initiative of showing everything that was wrong with France and its modus oprandi. It’s idealism were mere doctrines which badly needed to be updated. [There’s no way but to escape the horrendous brutality of the system, and escape is what the protagonist does. He escapes his tragic familial confinement, then he escapes from the juvenile detention home.]


The 400 Blows “Les Quatre cent coups” (1959)

Directed by François TruffautWritten by F. Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, Produced by F. Truffaut and Georges CharlotStarring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Calire Maurier and others

Distributed by Cocinor

12 angry men cover photo

Review & Synopsis: 12 Angry Men (1957) & Argument Analysis

In form, “12 Angry Men” is a courtroom drama. In purpose, it’s a crash course in those passages of the Constitution that promise defendants a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. It has a kind of stark simplicity.

~Roger Ebert (Film Critic)

~Review~

Sydney Lumet‘s maiden direction  provides an important insight on analysis and questioning of the human conscience and bigotry, moreover why it should and shouldn’t accompany jurors during any case. A method with which a court announces the decision against any accused is supposedly the just moral duty the jury members must perform, as their ultimate decision has direct influence on someone’s life and death.

Official Poster of 12 Angry Men

Official Poster of 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men doesn’t start with 12 men grudging. The question of reasoning and desire for justice raises an angst among them to become angrier. The exasperation starts from the warming temperature of the room, it convulses into hatred starting from biases, prejudice and carelessness, and finally subduing into a vex for a fairer trail.

A debate on a fairer judgement by the jury is the only theme of the movie. Solving the criminal case isn’t the motive but sending a young man to death is. The 12 men jury composed of unlike individuals in a compact room on a hottest day possible to reason over passing a verdict, where only one stands up for a fairer judgement and 11 other are recluse into their conformity of the accused’ guilt, is what 12 Angry Men is all about.

Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) is the one who champions the cause for accused’s innocence, and the whole movie follows the unabated debate to prove one man’s point as a reason for general consensus, hence saving someone’s life.

The assertive dialogues and the greater gesticulations of actors add life to the script, which could have been duller for full 95 minutes. Fonda’s immense persuasion and tense in bringing facts and possibilities into his arguments brings a general disapproval from fellow jurors, however, his presumptions help change the stubborn decisions of 11 others. Every evidence here is based on an assumption and every reasonable decision is made out of it!

Set in a single room the entire time, the movie shows nothing of the trail, court-room drama or duller arguments made by the attorneys but only the discussions of jurors before reaching the unanimous verdict. Evidences are shown only second-hand, as reasons for disposition of the case are thrown here and there to prove reasonable doubt for guilt. The background score is less yet subtle. The camera is centered on human emotions and facial expressions. None of the casts misses any important scene nor anyone of them lacks a powerful dialogue to support their character. The brilliant use of visual cues and camera angle adds subliminal elements to the movie which can only be felt in audience’s subconscious. Lumet’s unorthodox treatment of a sensitive subject on-screen comes out to be alive and amazing.

 ★★★★★/5

~Synopsis~

Not Guilty – 1/11

12 angry men snapshot

Jurors are sent to a room to decide on the fate of a young accused

Not Guilty – 2/10

12 angry men snapshot

Jurors being ready to vote

Not Guilty – 3/9

12 angry men snapshot

Only one, Juror # 8, calls “Not Guilty,” rest jurors are convinced of the crime

Not Guilty – 4/8

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #10 makes bigot and prejudiced remarks against the accused, which other find offensive

Not Guilty – 5/7

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #8 tries hard to convince others to find a reasonable doubt

Not Guilty – 6/6

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 5 is the most articulate person in the entire team, who doesn’t even break sweat t all

Not Guilty – 7/5

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 9, an old man, is supportive of Juror # 8 approach in analyzing the truth

Not Guilty – 8/4

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 8 makes some insightful criticisms on the evidences and witnesses provided

Not Guilty – 9/3

12 angry men snapshot

Juror # 3 is the one who is most stubborn and declares Juror #8’s reasons a filth

Not Guilty – 10/2

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #3 tries proving the method of killing to Juror #8

Not Guilty – 11/1

12 angry men snapshot

All the jurors find Juror #3’s remarks against the case very offensive and unstandable

Not Guilty – 12/0

12 angry men snapshot

Juror #5 and #6 watch Juror #3 as he blabbers about his personal angst against criminals in general which no one else in the room is at all convinced of.


Analysis of Jurors’ Arguments

The jurors’ argument covers presumption of innocence and persuasions. Reasonable doubt is the burning factor among the few jurors, enlarged and popularized by only Juror # 8 to provide a fair judgement from fairer -supposed to be, jurors. If all the 12 jurors, based on their personal biases and prejudice without reasoning or fact finding, declare the case against the accused, the young boy will face capital pubishment. Juror #8 never confirms that the boy is guilty or not nor does he confirms his facts, his presumptions are all based on a reason for factual premise of the evidences and witnesses provided, therefore, his matter of persuasion among other 11 jurors is to look into things more tactfully and not judge the matter in a flick of second.

Ethnics and moralLogical reasons and Persuasions are all it takes for one person to correct the misconceptions of other. Persuasion is what Juror #8 uses to make other jurors to not decide on a whim, more importantly not on what they’ve heard and saw on the court but personal assurance of what could be correct and what couldn’t.

The tension’s born out of personal differences, personality conflict and body languages. As jurors find more reasons for the accused not being guilty, they channel their anger against personal biases and prejudice. At the end, the justice is served! All thanks to the value of reasoning and persuasion that helped change the 11 jury members’ conceited ideologies into a fairer and unanimous verdict.


 

12 Angry Men (1957)

Directed by Sydney Lumet, Written by Reginald Rose, Produced by Henry Fonda, Reginald Rose, Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Martim Balsam and others

Distributed by United Artists

Top10QuentinTarantino

Tarantino Vs Taratino, and My Big List of Tarantino favorites!!

His movies are famous for their violence and bloodshed; their blaring soundtracks; their offbeat, Pinteresque dialogue; their startling performances from actors you had almost forgotten about.

~NY Times

Tarantino Vs Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino‘s movies are mostly made up of nonlinear narratives. His movies are subject to Glorification of violence. His subjects are revenge and justice, which are indifferent from many other filmmaker’s subjects, however, what he can make out of it can completely be different in projection from the others. He’s inspired by movies from different genres made in the past, he brings old elements in his own story and mash’em up into a single theme containing of a justice seeking protagonist. He’s an amazing collaborator and a magnificent music connoisseur —picking background scores himself for his evenly eclectic scenes from the movies.

Quentin TarantinoTarantino’s repetitive and very much predictable, yet his craftsmanship is on a level of a such class that he can always get away with it by creating a niche piece of thoughtful movie that can cache on his superb direction and trademarks.

Starting from Reservoir Dogs to Django Unchained, his movies experienced a gradual development in story telling. His characters grew up and so did his film-making ability. He leaped from only telling an amazing story through nonlinear narratives and his Trademarked elements to more of a conventional narratives with his Trademarked elements still intact and flourishing.

The Tarantino we know today is different from the Tarantino that existed 10-15 years ago. His craft haven’t changed much and he still carries the same panache as before. His movies still follow similar story line; Loss, trail, retribution and revenge, however, his ability as a film-maker has grown to even wider and unimaginable horizons and he can now implore things that were rarely seen in his previous movies. We all know him best for his rougher cut movies, now they are more fine cut and well-tuned.

Advent of Grindhouse mashed with Spaghetti Western+Slasher and Retro Sound

grindhouse is an American term for a theater that mainly shows exploitation films. It is named after the defunct burlesque theaters […] where ‘bump n’ grind’ dancing and striptease were featured.

~Wikipedia

Grindhouse is the most commercial theme of Tarantino’s movies. He creates an unimaginable concoction of Grindhouse with spaghetti western and slasher. Now, slashing always has a greater purpose in his movies. Beatrice Kiddo couldn’t have gone away without slicing, dicing and chopping her enemies nor Sin City could have even more brutal without it.

There are many ways of torturing a character in Tarantino’s universe, you can either shoot them with a shotgun from a close range, cut off their limbs with a Ninja sword or just pluck out their eyes so they can’t see again their entire life. He can bring out the aesthetics and beauty of action well contrasted with the backdrop of the scenes; be it machine gun shooting Nazi occupied Germany, the Antebellum era with black slaves plucking out cotton or the fast food joint at Los Angeles.

“Music sets your soul free.”  Sure it does! He has a rare quality of picking unconventional sound for the very right scene. Isn’t it weird to hear a Jazz playing in the background when Django’s busy killing his enemies in a White supremacist South? That’s very unconventional.

[Sound Samples]

Most Clichéd about Tarantino

1. Blood Spillage

Tarantino pleasures blood. Blood plays a significant role in his movies. A movie without fountain of blood spouting out of someone recently sliced arm is non existent in his world. The gushing out of red fluid from a human body describes the occurrence of two things, either the crime has been committed or the justice has been served.

The malevolent practice of glamorizing blood spillage defines Tarantino’s style of brutality.

2. Homicide

Tarantino loves massacre. The protagonist’s lust for killing and finding the way through to accomplish the mission is what drives the entire movie. It won’t start until the protagonist kill his first victim and move on through the large crowd of dead before killing the only person that matters.

Crazy 88 from Kill Bill

Crazy 88 from Kill Bill

Homicide has a greater purpose of retribution for Tarantino and his characters. Killing is a need but pleasure. Antagonists in his movies are surrounded and covered by numerous henchmen or bodyguards, taking them off before killing the antagonist is essential because; to ensure nobody comes around from the back and stab you while your on the verge of your mission and to minimize the chance of leaving behind a potential nemesis.

3. Triumph of Truth and Justice

Tarantino supports the very idea of Truth and Justice. Audience may find his movie violent and all gore but that doesn’t mean the theme of it’s all about killing people. The greater idea is always the triumph of truth and justice through retribution. A protagonist always finds a way to seek justice, in the case of Tarantino’s movies they only find it after quenching their thirst for revenge by killing every man on sight that differs with them.

Django smiles after killing everyone of Candy's henchmen

Django smiles after killing everyone of Candy’s henchmen

It’s has never been a case when an antagonist has gotten away from the final scene without getting what he deserves. Beatrice Kiddo manages to kill Bill at the end and quench her revenge, so does Lt. Aldo Raine, he carves a SWASTIKA over Landa’s forehead to remind him of his wrongdoing for all his remaining life, and Django avenging the brutal torture he and his family suffered from the Slave owners and their henchmen.

At the end, Justice is always served. May the degree of treating a crime differ from many conventional films or what’s defined by the Standard Law, the ultimate reason for which justice stands is always served at the end.

My Big List

(Best Tarantino’s movies, listed #9 to #1)

#9

Jackie brown (1997)

Jackie Brown Movie Cover

#8

Death Proof (2007)

Death Proof Movie Poster

#7

True Romance (1993)

True Romance Movie Poster

#6

Sin City (2005)

Sin City Movie Poster

#5

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir dogs movie poster

#4

Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained Movie Poster

#3

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction Movie Poster

#2

Inglorious Basterds (2010)

Inglorious Basterds Movie Poster

#1

Kill Bill (2004)

Kill Bill Movie Poster

Resources

Quentin Tarantino’s Trademarks
Quentin’s World

Etty-Candaules_King_of_Lydia_Shews_his_Wife_to_Gyges

Is Porn a Modern form of Voyeurism, and is latter a Crime??

The compulsion to seek sexual gratification by secretively looking at sexual objects or acts; the actions of a Peeping Tom.

Voyeurism gratifies sexual arousal, so does the Pornography! The concept of pornography is described by the ideas of taking sensual learning to the next level, so does Voyeurism!

Voyeurs are motivated by the curiosity of experiencing moments that generate sexual gratification, sensual pleasures or answer simple queries on ‘anatomy’. Peeping through a window or a key hole, setting up a discreet camera in a room or watching from inside the cupboard, are few prime voyeuristic acts that we know of, and couldn’t deny of not doing at least once a lifetime.

One major similarity between these two is that we don’t watch Porn in public neither do we voyeur around in front of others. Both are a covert mission operated at own risk. These days, with the advent of digital entertainment; TV, Internet and Cell phones, and quicker access to information, the whole hubbub of enjoying porn has been much easier, so has been the act of hiding oneself in a corner and exploring the world of sexual fantasies which we once enjoyed through a key hole.

Is Voyeurism a Crime, and can it be Prevented?

Caraglio Voyeurism

“Mercury and Herse”, scene from The Loves of the Gods by Gian Giacomo Caraglio, showing Mercury, Herse, and Aglaulos © Wikipedia

Many nations do consider voyeurism to be a grave crime. Though the rules and the treatment of the crime may differ, societies have never denied referring it as an impious act, a treachery and a greater guilt. Catholic Churches, since their inception, managed to define and accommodate voyeurism in their philosophies, called: common sins committed by men. According to the church, it as a heinous act of criminality; act against God’s teachings, for which one must be punished for grave sins they committed. The consideration of declaring it an act against God’s teaching has made a permanent place in their theory.

My point, we are a curious beings, we learn from our experiences, we sought knowledge on the subjects we are not known of, be it carnal. Considering the facts, can voyeurism be ever stopped? Even discouraged, can anyone really control themselves from not assaulting others’ privacy, one way or the other? May we describe it as an immoral act for which one must be punished, the weight of intentionally denying the opportunity of learning what one always have been curious about can not be dismissed, therefore, voyeurism as well as pornography can never be considered crime. Let us be humans and learn from our own faults, shall we?

It cannot be called a crime for motivating a crime, thought it can be described as a “reason for the crime” in a court, does it make a greater guilt for an accused to be banished from the society?

An over-exposed cleavage of a busty woman or her bulging bottoms undoubtedly arouses sexual desires in many straight males, or lesbians. Now, can her attire or fashion sense be charged for a criminal offence? May it inculcate a reason for crime, but will defining it morally or ethically wrong and banishing it from her closet serves a greater justice? Will voyeurism stop? BTW, it shall sure reap a woman from her right to clothing.

The more we discuss about it, the more complex it tend to be. Some Experts suggest that pornography can be used for treating Voyeurism. My Question, can a digital form of voyeurism help eliminate a physical voyeurism in any way? I personally don’t think so! Will this work for juveniles, whose instance for voyeurism exceeds that of an adult; to whom the moral policies of a society is hard to apply?

We all are a “Peeping Tom.” Pornography and voyeurism go hand in hand, and one defines other, but are they motive for crime?

Mother India Poster

Review: Mother India (1957) & Analysis of Socialist Theme and Nargis’s Character

Mother India, A Magnum Opus

Based on a socialist theme and in an Agrarian society of Western Gujarat, Mother India (1957) accounts lives of countless Indian women who were and still are bound by their immense values and beliefs, and are forced to advocate the greater cause of personal sacrifices for the others.

Cultivating in the backyard of rural India, the aesthetic value of the movie largely remains on portraying the meager lives of poorer citizens of the newly formed nation. It emphasizes on the idea of building a greater nation through hard work, traditional values and agricultural. Other major ideas associated with the movie are; championing the cause for equal opportunities, importance of education, female prowess and fair loaning policy to the farmers.

~Review~

Mother India

Mother India (1957)

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Independence of India, Mother India commemorates the idea of greater patriotism, struggle, social accomplishment and advancement of woman’s role in the society with a hint of theatrical gesture. Mehboob Khan channelized a great deal of effort to bring his niche art among the audience. As opposed to Katherine Mayo’s book “Mother India,” which primarily criticized Indian culture and the role of women in the society, Khan made his movie with the exact title to Mayo’s book to juxtapose with the contrasting theories presented by her, and to deliver the message, despite our roots in social modus operandi which is seen as primitive in nature, the nation isn’t unfamiliar with the changing concepts of society.

Critically acclaimed and awarded with countless accolades, Mother India stands out among the greatest movies ever made in India. Khan’s most ambitious project and Nargis’s most challenging character portrayal of her time, it is still remembered and applauded by critics and audiences alike.

The greater idea of the movies rested solely on bringing India into the global attention. To inform the citizens of the world about the newly formed yet independent nation. It demanded India’s share of respect and position among the elites of the world. Inspired by the Italian Neo-realism cinema of Europe, Mother India applied similar aesthetics and nature of capturing a developing nation. It’s known to have run in theaters for more than 4 decades. Film-makers, audiences and several key social stakeholders still look up to it for greater examples of cinematic and artistic triumphs, and its socialism.

★★★★★/5

Importance of the Socialist Theme, Rural Agrarian Settings and the Female Prowess

Immediately after the independence, the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, administered his iconic idea of socialism and human resource empowerment to build and organize the petty Indian states and its people into a strong nation of like-minded citizens. The very idea of “Aam Admi” championed by Nehru was to facilitate equal priority to every citizen of the nation. A country where more than 80% of people were farmers by occupation, a socialist theme of governance was essential to build the initial steps for future development.

India, today, runs through liberal and capitalist yet meager socialist practices, however, the initial ideas were developed from Nehru’s socialist inputs. The Movie, as well as Nehru, championed the cause of developing a new nation through initiation of agricultural enterprises and equal participation of working class citizens.

With ever present male-dominance in the society, mass poverty and unfair loaning and lending system, the need of resurrecting an imagery of a God like and ferocious woman was essential to suggest that women can change the nation if they wish. The male class was corrupt and polluted. Women were always known for being the ultimate Sacrificer, Caregiver and Nurturer in the Hindu society, therefore feeding the idea of representing a woman as the protagonist of the movie was challenging yet overtly ambitious.

Analysis of Nargis’s Character

Nargis Dutt

Nargis Dutt

Nargis Dutt (1929-1981), the protagonist of Mother India, portrayed the role of a Mother (Radha). She bears a patriotic emblem of her nation. Her righteous deeds throughout the span of movie; raising children during difficult times and the ultimate decision of taking the life of her beloved son, makes her a Hero, a figurine of bravado.

Her portrayal of an Indian woman opposes every bit of the theory opined by Mayo, therefore, it remains one of the strongest female roles ever potrayed in the Indian cinema.


~Gallery~

Resources

Mother India in the making ( Part I, II, III, IV )