"I know nothing about the Indian culture or music, and I was a bit skeptical that a 4-hour subtitled movie filmed in India about CRICKET would be of interest to me. I loved every minute. Not only was this movie visually beautiful and well paced, it also has a "good heart." Although a classic tale of courageous common folk rising up against oppressors, the story is told with humor and affection and with an infectious joy and innocence that is very appealing. One example of the director's skill is that even though most of the film is concerned with cricket, a sport about which I know absolutely nothing, the movie never lags or slows down, but keeps an active pace.The singing and dancing were very enjoyable. Even though I had never been exposed to Hindi singing before, my "Western" ears still found the music very beautiful. I can see why the actor who played Bhuvan is a big star in India--very charismatic and charming, as well as very good looking. I will definitely watch this again and again. We made an "Indian Evening" out of it, getting recipes off the Internet for Indian food, and munched on Tandoori chicken and vegetable curry while watching the DVD at home. Great fun!"
The Season of Flowers will Also Come
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 04/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As the parched earth waits for the rain, the village girl Gauri (Gracie Singh) waits for the young village farmer Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) to discover her heart. Together they fight for freedom from tyranny as Gauri encourages Bhuvan in his quest to take on the most important challenge of his life.
This is a story of triumph over oppression. A story of how the human spirit rises to new heights to overcome injustice. The plot is uncomplicated, which leaves room for fascinating choreography, discussions of cultural issues and moments of pure abandon. The dance sequences tell stories only dance can tell. It brings together the thoughts and feelings of the characters and creates a sacred space where the characters enter the realm of spirit.
Set in the 1890s, the residents of a small farming village in rustic Gujarat, India are waiting for the monsoon when they discover they will now have to pay twice the amount of lagaan (agricultural tax) they normally have to pay. With just enough food to survive they are literally going to have to fight to survive.
Captain Russel (Paul Blackthorne) almost overplays his part as the colonial officer (of the cantonment which rules over the neighboring villages) to emphasize the absolute absurdity of the situation. He demands complete obedience with no regard to the human suffering his laws will produce. He challenges Bhuvan to a game, knowing he has never played Cricket. If the village loses, they must pay triple the tax (lagaan). Bhuvan must not only gain the support of the terrified villagers, he must rally a team and train them within a few months.
It is completely unfair and the officer's sister, Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), takes pity on the farmers. Against her brother's will, she starts teaching the villagers how to play the game of Cricket. In the process she falls in love with Bhuvan. It is a shallow love at best. While she is beautiful, Gauri is completely captivating in her complete innocence. Gauri's jealousy over Bhuvan's attentions towards Elizabeth is spectacularly portrayed in dance.
The sweeping cinematography creates a magical ambiance and seems to invoke a certain unity of purpose. The delicious wide shots are sumptuously filmed, completely captivating your entire being. This movie will hold your complete attention, even through the Cricket scenes. One you fall in love with Gauri and Bhuvan, you rally to their cause and the sheer tension of the moments during the Cricket games keeps you completely entranced.
The love story is exotic, the choreography like you have never seen, the songs are intoxicatingly beautiful with poetic lyrics. I've never imagined anyone could combine so many elements into one movie. Sports and a musical? It is amazing how Ashutosh Gowariker knows how to appeal to the human heart in such a way as to combine a musical, political drama, universal emotions, poetry, community culture, romance, dance, artistic cinematography, patriotism and the brute strength of valor.
A movie that emerges slowly and works its way into your heart. First peeking out of the ground and then bursting into full bloom in moments of sheer beauty that will take your breath away right up to the exciting climax.
Story Telling at its Finest!
~The Rebecca Review"
My 1st Bollywood Film was Worth the 4 Hours!
T. Halkin | Munich, Germany | 10/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite the fact that I bought the DVD some time ago, it took me a couple of months and 2 tries to actually get into it enough to watch. Knowing that it's approx. 4 hours long, the first time I popped it in and started struggling through the subtitles, that baby was out of the recorder about 2 minutes later! Well, it took being held up in bed sick to finally motivate me to try again.Lagaan is an enchanting film that works on several levels: as an exciting sports film, as a poignant triangular love story and as a social and political drama. I like all of the above-mentioned genres with the major exception of sports films. However, I found myself thoroughly caught up in the big game, which actually adds at least one hour to the film's length. It is through this game that so many of the wonderful characters that are introduced throughout the film get their moment to shine: the fortune-teller, the crippled low-cast outcast, the village "idiot", the reformed Judas, etc.I also appreciated the film's attempt to be fair: it would have been very easy to make the Brits all look like "bloody colonial twats", and the Indians smell like roses. We get to see Brits who where appalled by the way that their fellow countrymen behaved towards the Indians, and Indians discriminating amongst themselves due to their cast system. These areas of grey add layers to what might have been a fairly one-dimensional, Indian version of Mighty Ducks! That said, the very clear lines between good and bad help one cheer the underdogs on and ultimately make this a warm and fuzzy, feel-good-movie.The cast, lead by Aamir Khan - a wonderful mixture between Tom Hanks and Elvis Presley (!) - is wonderfully diverse, and the films length allows us to get to know each and every one of them. It is my understanding that Khan is somewhat of a superstar in India, which probably means he'll never have the desire to breakout and start an international career. I guess we'll just have to keep watching him in Bollywood films - if his other films are as charming as this one, however, than I certainly don't mind."
A Beautiful Introduction to Bollywood!
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 09/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was my first full-fledged trip into Bollywood and I couldn't have asked for a better entry. While there were some inconsistencies in sound, overall I loved the picture. Some of the songs and dances were breathtaking and emotionally charged. In particular the number where Bhuvan and the young boy are sitting on a hill and they're shrugging their shoulders, soon getting the village into the act. The other number where Bhuvan and Gauri re-enact the love of Krishna and Radha in exquisite dancing. Also there were many moments of stunning, breathtaking images, including the women of the village seated in the temple praying for salvation. Absolutely stunning.
While I feel some judicious pruning could have trimmed the nearly 4 hour long version I watched (the DVD of which included an additional 17 minutes cut from this version) the picture did not seem nearly as long as it really was.
Aamir Khan creates an instantly likeable presence, handsome, engergetic and full of great promise and self-assuredness. I welcome the opportunity to see more of his work.
Gracy Singh is simply irresistable as Gauri - who could not fall in love with this slightly wacky, but ultimately wise in matters of the heart. She moves with an easy grace and elegance and charm befitting a princess. Her contribution to the song and dance numbers was exquisite. More Singh, please!
Paul Blackthorne was a hilarious, old-school villain; over the tope and right out of a penny dreadful melodrama - and I mean this as a compliment. His unrelenting arrogance made him so oh so easy to hate I almost hissed at his every appearance. I love a good villain!
Rachel Shelley's Elizabeth was a perfect blend of Victorian reserved beauty and free spirit and noble in her heartbreak.
So many other performances ran the gamut from old school "b" stereotypical characters to some original ideas.
The blending of melodrama (in its purest sense) true comedic moments (the hen keeper), self and enlightenment culminated in the scene where Bhuvan shocks the village by touching an untouchable; his stirring, heartfelt speech about brotherhood and putting away castes shaming the village into enlightenment.
Some of the criticism leveled at Lagaan is (I believe) unduly harsh. This is a charming movie and a perfect introduction into the joys of Bollywood. "
Ben | Lincoln, CA, USA | 09/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't let this movie's running time (325 minutes; almost 4 hours), the fact that it is not in English, or that it's about cricket, put off any potential viewers.
This is not an action film, nor is it a high-suspense thriller. It doesn't have any special effects, no blood, no gore. And yet for some reason, the story catches you up and you find yourself caring about what happens. Personally, I found that the four hours whizzed by.
I don't know more than a couple of words in Hindi, so I can't say how accurate the subtitles are, but they are certainly good enough to me informed. I especially appreciated the subtitles for the musical numbers, which you rarely find.
As an American, I find cricket to be rather mysterious. So I didn't understand the finer details of the cricket match, but I definately got wrapped up in the tension and suspense, even if I didn't know why. Which, if you think about it, is a good reccomendation!
The acting is great; Aamir Khan is very charismatic, intense, and down right handsome. I appreciated Gracy Singh's acting as well; she could have really camped up her jealousy scenes, but instead came off adorable; how could Bhuvan (Kahn) not have been in love with her?
I wonder how long it took the British actors to learn their Hindi lines, or if they were doing them phonetically.
I digress. If you have even a passing interest in India, Indian history, the Bollywood style of movies, or even that peculiar game called cricket, then you will enjoy this film immensely."