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The movie East is East is a award-winning British comedy released in 1999. The movie is directed by Damien O`Donnell and the scrip is written by Ayub Khan-Din, who also wrote the the play by the same name, which the movie is based on. Actor and actresses taking part in the movie are among others Om Puri, as George Khan, Linda Bassett, as Ella Khan, Jimi Mistry, as Tariq Khan, and Jordan Routledge, as Sajid Khan.
The movie adresses cultural differences, circumcision, the urge to find our own unique identity in a society with a lot of influence from people around us, arranged marriages and family relationships.
The movie is sat to a half-pakistani household, with a british mother, Ella, and a pakistani father, George, in Salford near Manchester in 1971. George expects his children to respect him and to follow in his strict Pakistani ways of life, but they don`t share his opinions, and some of them refuce to behave as he tells them to while others do, at least in the beginning. This, as you probably can imagine, causes a lot of conflict within the familiy.
In the movie we meet George Khan, the main character, who`s married to the Britsih woman, Ella, and is the father of seven children, Tariq, Nazir, Abdul, Maneer, Saleem, Meenah and Sajid, who have all been borned and raised in Britain.
The movie opens with a wide, long distance shot of a street in Salford where we can see the children carrying a crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary and later hide from their father who`s home early from the mosque. This shows that they, right from the beginning of the film, disobey their father.
Ella and George has been married for 25 years and George believes he has to please both the British community and the Pakistani community. When their oldest son, Nazir, leaves his bride at the alter, Georges seems to collaps under the shame, but then he gets an idea. He will marry of two of his other sons, to regain the respect he lost. Ella finds herself trapt between the obligation towards her husband and her own desire for her sons` happiness. She decides not to tell them, fearing their reaction, which later is shown to be just as she feared, when they threatens to leave home.
While all of this is going on the youngest son Sajid is discovered to be uncircumcised. The boy is horrified at his father's plans to have the surgery carried out, and tries to resist, but in vain. Again Ella is put in a position where she has to choose between her husbond and child, and again she supports her husband. All throgh this George still has the marrige on his mind and agrees to have a gathering with Mr. Shah and his family. Mr. Shah is the father of George`s sons` brides-to-be. The gathering doesn`t go exactly as planed and ends up in even more conflict.
The camera was used in many differet angels to get the desired effect. In some scenes you could see the picture through a keyhol, which I believe was used to reinforce the meaning, and to drag the viewers attention or focus towards what was said.
The chararctor who changes the most through out the whole film is without a doubt George, who goes through a make over in the director`s camera. He starts of as a strict and stubborn father, who tend to think more of himself and about pleasing others than about his wife and childrens feeling and opinions, and ends up as a very confused, but still a better man, who needs to learn have to live with his familiy all over again.
I felt the movie was well presented and that the director did a very good job. The story was told from two sides, so that we got to know both the fathers- and the childrens point of view. Although the movie addressed serious social issues, it was directoed in a way that made it serious, but still fun and humorous, and I would truly recommend it.