If the parts of a ship are replaced,bit-by-bit, is it still the same ship?An unusual photographer grapples with the loss of her intuitive brilliance as an aftermath of a clinical procedure; an erudite monk confronting an ethical dilemma with a long held ideology, hasto choose between principle and death; and a young stockbrok...more
If the parts of a ship are replaced,bit-by-bit, is it still the same ship?An unusual photographer grapples with the loss of her intuitive brilliance as an aftermath of a clinical procedure; an erudite monk confronting an ethical dilemma with a long held ideology, hasto choose between principle and death; and a young stockbroker, following the trail of a stolen kidney, learns how intricate morality could be. Following the separate strands of their philosophical journeys, and their eventual convergence, Ship of Theseus explores questions of identity, justice, beauty, meaning and death. less
“Ship of Theseus is an evocative, immersive and splendid experience. One of the most original and finest Indian films of recent times. Don't miss it.”
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Every once in a while comes a film that makes you suspend your beliefs about the boundaries of cinema as a medium of storytelling and compels you to take the spiritual journey along. There are two films Anand Gandhi's Ship Of Theseus reminded me of: Ingmar Bergman's "Through A Glass Darkly" for its inspection of interpersonal relationships between characters under crises and interpretation of the concept of god, and Terrence Malick's "The Tree Of Life" for its stylistical approach to this content especially in the way it sets up a languid, ethereal mood.
While the theme of the film is correlative and the title has been drawn from the famous "Theseus Paradox", the film employs the concept as a hypothesis for further contemplation on philosophical issues rooted in a very real world. The three segments of this anthology are about three individuals with defective organs and their personal journeys.
One possible complaint about the film may be that the tone of the film is too solemn, that it doesn't acknowledge the inherent humour in the events unlike a Rashomon or an 8½, which is where I'd like to invoke "The Tree Of Life". Ship Of Theseus is seemingly a very personal film, and like Malick's immensely meditative work, holds its themes at the centre keeping the viewer at a measured distance from "rooting for" the characters, yet remarkably not reducing them to mere pawns used to drive the larger point home.
What did bother me to an extent was too much of explanatory dialogue, like the story of a centipede conjured at one point in the film as if the viewer won't have understood what's going on without the crutches of this story that comes out of nowhere. The film is a bit too self-aware of its greatness and I wouldn't have minded a bit of precision. But in its current form too, it's an intensely intoxicating experience.
*Warning: The following paragraph contains spoilers*
I feel obliged to provide my interpretation of the ending, so here it goes.
After the invocation of the Theseus Paradox and after all the talk about Karma in the segment about the monk, when we finally discover that the same person has donated his/her body parts to different people, we see the recipients watching a video shot by the donor before he/she died. We or the recipients see not the donor him/herself, but the visuals of the video linger on the surface of the lime cave. These shots are intercut with shots of the recipients, watching the video and struck with an immense awe. Would the director be suggesting that the donor, in his/her own little way, god? Not in the abstract sense as the concept of god is generally referred to, but in a practical sense, abiding by the talk between the monk and his young friend. I was pretty convinced especially because of the way it was edited. I asked the director during a Q&A session if he intended it that way, he replied in the negative.