2 December 2016

JINNAH: AN HISTORICAL EPIC. (1998) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




JINNAH: AN HISTORICAL EPIC. (1998) DIRECTED, PRODUCED AND CO-WRITTEN BY JAMIL DEHLAVI. DISTRIBUTED BY DEHLAVI FILM PRODUCTIONS.
STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, JAMES FOX, MARIA AITKEN AND SHIREEN SHAH.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a fantastic historical epic along the lines of, say, Richard Attenborough's GANDHI, a film so long that you could put it on in the morning over breakfast and it would still be playing away by the time you came home from work. Via the pub. And the chipper. And the back alley where the chips and the batter burger made an unwelcome re-appearance.

Okay, slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean. JINNAH is slightly less butt-numbing, clocking in at just under two hours, but it's none the less sweeping and all-encompassing for all that, and a cracking great story into the bargain.

We'd better go back to basics here. Do we all know who the titular JINNAH is? I must confess that I personally didn't until I watched this film. Jinnah is more formally known as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man credited with founding the Muslim nation of Pakistan in 1947, in the wake of Great Britain's relinquishment of control over India. That's a bit of a mouthful, but it does put it in a nutshell rather.

It's hard to explain/understand if you're not an historian, haha, but I think the gist of the historical element of the story is as follows. India at the time was comprised of Hindus and Muslims. Jinnah fought constantly for the rights of Muslims and he believed strongly that the Indian Muslims should have their own state or country, and their own independence and government, etc.

After years of campaigning, Muhammad Ali Jinnah finally achieved his dream in 1947, after which he was hailed as 'the father of Pakistan' and his birthday (Christmas Day, as it happens) was declared as a national holiday. It's well for some. I can't even remember the last time someone tried to have my birthday observed as a national holiday...!

Anyway, I think most history teachers would have to give me an 'A+' for my synopsis of the historical situation in the film. Now for the rest. The late Christopher Lee does a superb job in the title role. He even looks a bit like the real Jinnah. These each have the same kind of long face and stern or grave facial expression.

In the film, it's funny because Christopher Lee is actually playing the late Jinnah. In fact, it is 1948, the year after Jinnah's great achievement, and the man hailed as 'the father of Pakistan' has just died of natural causes. Now he's suspended in a kind of bureaucratic limbo. It comes to us all in time.

The 'heavenly' computer network is down (I hear that...!), Jinnah's life-file has been misplaced and, while he's waiting for these irritating technical snafus to be sorted out, he ends up reliving the story of his fascinating life and political career for the benefit of the heavenly official who's looking after him.
The thing I find terrifying about all this is that it's naturally assumed that the kind of bureaucratic arse and utter bullshit that plagues people throughout their lives is guaranteed to follow us into the afterlife. I can totally imagine myself still spending hours on the phone to my different service providers (gas, phone, electrics, cable, etc.) after I die. God help us all, that's all I can say.

Christopher Lee has been quoted as saying that JINNAH is 'by far the best thing I've ever done.' I still personally think that his best performances were as the crazy Lord Summerisle in THE WICKER MAN (1973) and in Peter Jackson's truly magnificent THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy in the early 'Noughties, in which he played Sarumon and grappled physically with Ian McKellen's Gandalf The Grey, giving a good account of himself as always.

Still, he's terrific in JINNAH too, which is to his credit as he was about seventy-six years old when he played the role that is still much admired and considered to be of great historical significance in Pakistan today. He really seems to be feeling the role, if you know what I mean.

The super-posh, super-English James THE REMAINS OF THE DAY Fox is wonderfully well-suited to the role of super-posh, super-English Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, and Maria Aitken is all perfectly jolly-hockey-sticks too as his lonely, sex-starved Missus. 

That fellow Nehru, by the way, is totally just using her for sex, never mind whether or not her complicit hubby approves of the arrangement or even instigated it, the rat. He's a sleazebag, this Nehru fellow. Lady Edwina Mountbatten needs to kick his ass to the kerb asap, imho. Capiche...?

Anyway, there's plenty of gorgeous scenery and tense, dramatic political moments in evidence as Jinnah looks back over his life and reflects on any mistakes or regrets, whether personal or political.

Mahatma Gandhi, he of the sandals and PERSIL-white bedsheets, even shows his mild-mannered, bespectacled face as Jinnah weighs up the pros and cons of his long life and tries to decide whether or not it was all worth it before the powers-that-be figure out whether he continues on his journey into the afterlife on an upward or downward trajectory, if you know where I'm coming from...!

Knowing that the late great Christopher Lee (my hero and long-time object of sexual fantasy) went to his own eternal rest only last year made my viewing of this excellent film all the more poignant and special. It is to be hoped that when he passed away himself, he was fast-tracked through all the bureaucratic whatchamaycallit and hustled straight through to the VIP Lounge of the Afterlife. Given his amazing lifetime of achievements, it's unthinkable to conceive of anything less.

This genuinely special biographical epic is out now in a lovely Dual Format Edition (DVD and Blu-Ray), courtesy of the nice peeps as EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT. 

If you like your historical epics on a grand scale, you'll enjoy the hell out of this film. Pun definitely intended...

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com






No comments:

Post a comment