To the wonder & beyond


Greetings again from the darkness. Director Terrence Malick makes films that typically fall into the “love it or hate it” genre. He has a very loyal group of fans (of which I am one) who appreciate the unique mental and emotional ride that his projects provide. To say that his films are not accessible is understandable. His objective is to challenge you to access your own beliefs and thoughts, rather than the characters in his movies … they are simply the tools he uses.

Less than two years ago, I was struggling to put thoughts into words after watching Malick’s The Tree of Life. Now, in record time for him, he releases another film that is even more impressionistic … actually abstract is not too strong a description. The usual Malick elements are present – nature, uncomfortable relationships, minimal dialogue, breathtaking photography, and powerful music. Where The Tree of Life focused on Creation and Family, this latest takes on Love and Faith.

Water imagery is a frequent key as we see the personal relationship mimic the changing of the seasons. Neil (Ben Affleck), an American visiting Paris, meets and falls for Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a free-spirited local filled with light and energy. Their love affair moves to the stunning Mont Saint-Michel before settling in the drab plains of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

It’s not surprising that the relationship suffers as the newness wears thin. The interesting part is how Malick presents it. We mostly witness bits and pieces … he shows us moments, not events. We easily see that Neil’s aloofness and sullen looks don’t jibe with Marina’s effervescence. When she returns to Paris, Neil easily falls in with an old flame played by Rachel McAdams. When she later accuses him of making what they had “nothing”, we all understand what she means … and why.


While Neil is proving what a lost soul he is, we also meet Father Quintana (Javier Bardem). He has lost the light of his faith and is in full crisis mode, even as he attempts to console and guide Marina. There is no secret that much of this film is autobiographical and that Malick is working through wounds he still carries these many years later. As a movie-goer, there is little to be gained from Alleck’s disconnected character or from Kurylenko dancing in the rain. The real prize is awakening the thoughts and feelings many of us probably buried over the years to hide emotional pain. Malick seems to be saying that it’s OK to acknowledge your foundation, regardless of your ability to succeed in a socially acceptable manner.

If you prefer not to dig so deep emotionally, this is a beautiful film to look at – thanks to Director of Photograpy Emmanuel Lubezki (a frequent Malick collaborator), and listen to – a blended soundtrack with many notable pieces from various composers. While this will be remembered as Roger Ebert’s final movie review (he liked it very much), it will likely have very little appeal to the average movie watcher – and I’m confident that Terrence Malick is fine with that.


The more complex of a reason – Musarat Ali

How complex, contagious and self-repelling is the reason. Facts justify it. Beliefs defy it. And we ignore it.

Why one’s faith has not to be based on reason. Why it’s always blind. Theoretically, reason can’t be denied. Yes, at any moment of time. It adds more and more objections on every illogical thing with time. Knowledge is perhaps its best associate.

How difficult it becomes sometime to answer the “why” question. Why is it so difficult to understand Him. It’s equally simple if you pull the shutters of your thinking mind. Betray it. And send a message to your heart, yes, He exists and is listening to me. Me?

I always have a dream, since my college days where I studied chemistry. I loved that subject. I was very focused to its details since it involves creativity. In my dream, I somehow miss the classes of that subject and wander around, worried, thinking how would I pass my exam.

If I synchronise my dream with our daily life. It becomes the most common message that we find in our society. Your life is a test. If you fail, you are going to hell for sure. And if you pass, you must attend every class, you will go to heaven and dance with 70 Hooris!

It seems as unreal as dream, isn’t. Reason, oh well, should better close its senses before hearing it.

But He, Who is the Creator of all, is above all reasons. His message to us is very simple. Be nice, helping, caring, curious for knowledge, peaceful, disciplined and obeying. I think that’s it. Such a senseful and instructive message is distorted by our own people with all kinds of shit imaginable. It can only be called shit. I don’t know any other word that defines the actions of such people so accurately.

In our daily lives, if we could only start thinking even for once about the reason and actual purpose of our actions, we can easily justify and segregate the wrong ones from right. The improvement of a single individual shall spread to the whole society in the long run.

Like Ali Ibn e Abi Talib said “Neither Jews nor Christians, our greatest enemy is our ignorance”. Our fight with our own selves shall prove more purposeful than fighting with people of other religions. In common we are humans, we breath alike, we feel alike. Respecting humanity and dignifying it with our true spirit is perhaps the solution to most of the problems that we have created ourselves.


Questions, unanswered – Musarat Ali

There is a life out there, somewhere, calling us. Us, the human race.

Long ago, billions of years ago, when earth had no life. When sun shun bright, brighter than it is today. When the black matter was silent, sucking stars, sucking life but silent.

Something happened. It happened on Mars.

Mars, as we know it now was different then. There was a life there. Exactly as it is on earth today. It had controlled atmosphere so water could be in its liquid form. It had soil, lush green valleys, snowy mountains and roaring rivers. There was a life there and we know it now.

Titan, one of the 62 moons of Saturn reportedly has a controlled atmosphere and scientists in Nasa have got the proofs of liquid water there. Present. It is in our solar system.

There are billions of solar systems in our galaxy and there are billions of galaxies in a Universe.

We know it now.

So are we alone? among mega-trillions of planets? Are we?

Answer is no. We can’t be alone.

Religion doesn’t answer that. No religion has ever talked about it. And yet, we all have a faith. A common faith about The Creator.

When I was a kid, in my village, I was told to offer prayer and keep God happy. I did so. The mosque where I used to go for prayer belonged to Sunni Muslims. My family is all Shia Muslims. I was confused then. There was a battle between wrong and right inside me. That battle lead me to study about my religion, my Prophet, our faith, beliefs, social responsibilities and more specially our own being.

That study lead me to even more confusion. More and more ‘unanswerable’ questions kept coming in mind. And ‘unanswerable’ questions are still unanswered. I was told that my mind has less gravity to understand these ‘mysteries’.

That battle is mature now. It now has more complex questions than right versus wrong.

All ‘unanswerable’.

It is painful to be answered, isn’t it?

And now I can feel the pain of our scientists who battle day in and out to find more, to know more and justify something that can answer the questions they have. The question “Are we alone in this Universe” is one of them that needs proof, not a conspiracy.

Best is yet to come. Because hope is a good thing, perhaps the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.