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besieged

March 2, 2012

What do you think about Kinsky and Shandurai?  Does their relationship involve love?  In what ways are they giving people who just make mistakes or maybe just don’t know how to give?  Could they have handled things better, or is the action we see perhaps the best we can hope for?  In what ways is Kinsky representative of European attitudes towards the displaced people of Africa?

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16 comments

  1. This movie was very different from the other movies we have watched so far in class. I feel that its purpose was to show how these two people from different cultures and pasts were able to come together and form a relationship despite their differences, in the seclusion of the mansion that Kinsky owned. I actually felt like their relationship was realistic. They were in a position where talking a whole lot was not likely to happen, this wasn’t the typical love relationship so it’s not as if they were dating and were falling in love that way. Instead they were just living their own lives while having to be around the other person whenever they were in the intimacy of being comfortable at home. Kinsky’s love, whether it was real or just mere infatuation was a noble attempt at sacrificing himself for his love to Shandurai. I never got the incling that he expected something from her in the end he just wanted to express his love towards her any way he could and getting her husband out of prison was his way of doing that.


  2. I was just as confused about this movie as everyone else was in the class after it ended. I completely agree with Jessica, that I think Kinskey’s attempt at sacrificing his own happiness for ultimate happiness of Shandurai should be looked at as noble. From my understanding, he never thought he was going to get something in return from her. Yes, I do agree that he was a little creepy, always staring at her through windows and doorways, but once she said she was married, he did back off. She, in fact, drew closer after he backed off. There were times where she came into the room that he was in and asked him if he needed anything or if he wanted a cup of tea or anything like that, and he just said “No, thank you” and kept going about his business. But yet in our conversation, no one thought she was creepy. I also think there were more times where she was being creepy than when he was. But that isn’t the point I’m trying to make. The point I’m trying to make was that he sacrificed (almost) all of his material possessions in order to make her happy. He never told her he was doing it and he never expected something in return. I think that is the most noble form of love. Usually in a relationship, something is done with the impression that the favor is going to be returned. OR people sometimes only love others on the condition that they will love them in return. I think only in the most noble form of love does someone love someone else and expect nothing in return.

    As far as Kinskey representing Eurpean attitude towards the displaced people of Africa, I’m not quite sure what to think. Going off of the observation we made in class that Kinskey is socially awkward towards Shandurai, I would assume that maybe the attitude or relationship between the two people (displaced Africans and Europeans) is also one that is awkward. I’m not sure of the relationship of displaced Africans to Europe- if they are sent there, if they flee for refuge, if they are illegal- I have no idea, since we didn’t get the back story on how Shandurai got to Italy. But if it is that the government sent them to Europe, then I would think the attitude towards those Africans isn’t one of hatred or contempt, but instead one of awkward intrigue. Going off of this relationship we’ve seen, it may be said that Europeans have an interest in the displaced Africans because maybe they aren’t used to that race and it is intriguing to them. I’m not sure if that’s at all on the dot, but it’s something I was thinking about.


  3. If this relationship involved love, it is a love manufactured by Kinsky. He is in complete control of the situation here, while Shandurai juggles her absent husband, her stressful exams and her job with a boss who lives above her and leers at her from time to time. You can almost see his strategy, how he plans to win her heart. To her it must look like he is selling all his possessions, but he is well off and that place he inherited from his aunt, and those paintings, tapestries, and statues may be his aunts as well. It is an image he has carefully crafted to sell her. A man letting everything go to help her, release her husband from prison. This is a lie though, he goes through this act to convince her he is a selfless man, when really he wants her for himself. He may be representative of European attitudes towards Africans, in that he feels she needs his help, and can be bought quite easily. There is a long history of colonialism between Europe and Africa, and Europe has always looked down upon the continent, thinking that its ‘savages’ could use help becoming civilized. Kinsky may seem detached and aloof in his isolation, but I think there is an arrogance there. Not just because of all the shots we see of him literally looking down at her while she cleans the floor, and Shandurai looking up at him with his hands in his pockets (recalling the lecture on the difference between a ‘boss’ and a ‘leader’ that we saw early in the film). Kinsky appears proud and sets himself apart from everyone around him. ‘You may find it, trivial.’ He tells her about the piece he intends to play. At first I interpreted this as him downplaying his own talent, but it also comes off as condescending. At first I thought he was a shy and sweet kind of guy, acting out of a childlike innocent ignorance, but by the end I saw him as deeply assuming and haughty, imperialistic.


  4. To start with, I want to begin with something we barely discussed after the film – the editing. Quite honestly, I found the “epileptic editing” to be disorientating at first. Maybe the idea was to help convey the chaos in the characters’ heads, but the scene transitions weren’t usually smooth and I felt like it was harder to pay attention. That may just be me. It also reminded me of a Woody Allen comedy I saw, even though the movie wasn’t trying to be comedic. That said, I quickly got used to it, though there were a few things that I still had to wonder why they shot a certain way (like Shandurai’s “metaphysical moment” towards the end of the film, which was done with a shaky hand camera).

    Other than that, I did like the narrative and how certain things were kept vague. The convention is to place sufficient information so the audience knows the particulars of the romance and their relationship. In this film, there was a conscience decision to leave the details out so that different people can get different things from their viewing. Was the attraction a one-sided affection? It can be. Was it a deep one of mutual understanding? That is probably just as valid. It was an intentional choice of the filmmakers.


    • ^And by “conscience” I meant conscious*


  5. I think Kinsky was an interesting character to observe. He was so socially awkward that it was difficult for me to tell if he was being creepy throughout the film, or if he just didn’t know how to be what we consider to be normal. He spends all of his time alone with just Shandurai cleaning his house, or teaching children to play the piano. He doesn’t spend much time around adults so I think the love he feels is real, partially because he doesn’t know what the feeling would be otherwise. I think Kinsky is so secluded from the world and adult relationships that he doesn’t know what his feelings for her were if he couldn’t categorize it as love. Shandurai on the other-hand knows what love is because it was clear at the beginning of the film that she loved her husband. I’m not sure how much she really loves Kinsky at the end of the film. It’s hard to tell how much her feelings are contributed to gratitude towards him and loving that he gave so up for her happiness. She might love the idea of him and his actions, but not necessarily love him for himself.

    I think that what we saw happen between the two of them is all we could hope for in the film. Their relationship wouldn’t have developed between them if Kinsky didn’t give up everything for her husband, so none of the following events and relationship would have happened. Kinsky represents the European attitude towards displaced people because he is trying to fit into the African culture for her. She tells him that he doesn’t understand the African culture or anything about the people. When we see him trying to figure it all out and fit in, we can visually see how much he is out of his element and can’t fit in. When he tries to get into the African culture, it’s seen as more of a hobby or way to learn more, but he will actually never really be a part of that culture.


  6. When Shandurai’s husband was taken into custody, he was teaching students the difference between a leader and a boss. Kinsky displays features of both in his own offbeat way, but I think that’s largely due to Shandurai’s personality. I really liked both characters, but it seemed to me that Shandurai needed to be subserviant in order to excel in her surroundnings. Kinsky realized this, and made an effort to abandon his post as Shandurai’s boss and (reluctantly) exemplified traits of a leader.

    This change started when Kinsky learned that Shandurai is married. A heated exchange between the two ended with Shandurai yelling, “If you want me to love you, (free) my husband!” Kinsky, who was already awkward, found himself in the awkward position of being able to unite the woman he’s fond of with her imprisoned husband. Though Shandurai didn’t think of it as such at the time, she had entered into a verbal contract with Kinsky. Sure enough, Kinsky delivered.

    Some may feel that Shandurai met her end of the bargain as well. I disagree. She agreed to love Kinsky, but all the more viewers see is a night of drunken lust. I really think that either Kinsky or Shandurai will regret their decision. They should have kept a more open line of communication when it came to their intentions, and relied less on innuendo and good intentions.


  7. While watching this film, I was completely confused and had trouble following, but after class discussion, I gained clarity of the story. I believe that Kinsky and Shandurai’s relationship was a one sided love, on Kinsky’s end. He sold all of his possessions to gain Shandurai’s husband’s freedom, in hopes of also gaining her love. In the end, when Shandurai’s husband was at the front door waiting, confusion led her to take shelter in Kinsky’s bed. I don’t believe she did it out of love, maybe just love of the situation. Kinsky’s actions could possibly be representative of European attitudes towards the displaced people of Africa, in the way of doing his part in helping a tragic cause that doesn’t get enough attention. Of course, this was shown in a more personal and dramatic way, but I definitely see the metaphor lying within the story.


  8. This film is confusing. Honestly, I think creating a confusing film only leads to open ended justifications. The relationship between Kinsky and Shandurai is misleading, deep, and yet totally inevitable. When Shandurai’s husband was captured and thrown in jail, Shandurai made the decision to go to Italy and pursue a medical degree. Along with other posts on this blog, I find Shandurai’s decision to move forward with her life as Kinksy’s main motivation. Besides the rather creepy staring Kinsky engages in with Shandurai, I believe that Shandurai eventually develops a love, maybe not the love we all think of when two people live together, for Kinsky. It just seems that Kinsky, throughout the film, begins to “grow on” Shandurai. Whether it’s because he’s trying to buy her love, or because she sees his losses as a self-less and loving act, the two have some sort of love together as shown in the very last scene of the film.

    I also agree with the statement of a realistic love between these two characters. Often, I think displaced people don’t wish to supply information to their new host country (a bit like the don’t ask, don’t tell idea). Kinsky and Shandurai converse very minimally in the film and I believe that this is realistic relationship based on the circumstances. I do not think that things could have been handled any better than they were in the film because Shandurai, desperate to free her husband, had no other options. When Shandurai informed Kinsky that the only way she could love him was to get her husband from jail, Shandurai handled it to the best of her ability-acting unaware of the things Kinsky sold to free her husband. Oh my, that was a confusing sentence (just like the movie, eh?). Overall, I think the relationship proves that two people from different circles/walks of life can find safety and love in another person, from another country. Plus, the film also comes full circle because the two end up committing an act of love together just as Kinsky (probably) dreamed of and just as Shandurai somewhat promised (if husband is free, she will love).


  9. The film was interesting if nothing else. The relationship between Kinsky and Shandurai was confusing, strange, cold, and seemed to be based completely off of gratitude. I don’t believe that Kinsky was socially awkward. He held himself well around other people such as the buyers of all his stuff and his other students. I think either he was very inexperienced with women or Shandurai just took all reason and sanity out of the equation. His decision to sell everything he owned and loved for a woman who had shown him no affection the entire film was quite strange and seemed born of desperation. That was his final card and for some reason when all else failed that worked. I would be interested to see what happened at the end and whether Shandurai picked Kinsky or her husband but I don’t believe we will ever see that or know exactly how that played out. I think all the film proves is that if you literally give up everything for a woman they will finally love you but all of your other gifts and gestures will go unnoticed until you sell your piano. Whoever came up with this story may have been hurt in a similar way because I don’t see anyone just thinking this out of the blue. All in all it was an interesting movie and I found it to be very thought provoking.


  10. I agree with everyone else about the film being interested albeit a little offbeat. I’m not really sure how I feel about the “relationship” between Kinsky and Shandurai. I think that the dynamic between them was pretty strange, but this may be in part because we only see tidbits. We don’t see the whole story, and the plot kind of seems like its missing some things. I think that it would be a lot easier to read Kinsky if we had seen more of the story. At the beginning of the film I kind of saw Kinsky as that stereotypical, eccentric musician. I think that he honestly loved Shandurai– I can’t think of a better explanation for why he gave up everything for her, expecting nothing but her happiness in return. Shandurai is a different story, however. She seemed creeped out by him, and throughout the movie she never really showed gratitude for the things he did for her. I don’t know if this bothered anyone else, but it bothered me that she had to drink an entire bottle of alcohol before she could bring herself to write/deliver the “I love you” letter to Kinsky. I really want to say they should have handled things better,but honestly I don’t know because of how the story was edited…

    I think that at first Kinsky does seem to be pretty ignorant of what is going on in Africa, especially when he says they could travel there. From what I saw in the film, Shandurai left to escape the pain of her husband being imprisoned and to make a life for herself that she couldn’t have in Africa. When she yells at Kinsky and says something about him not knowing anything about Africa, he makes a conscious decision to learn more, and do what he can to understand and make her happy.

    I didn’t really like the choppiness of the editing, or the “epileptic editing” as someone else described it. I think they could have included a little bit more back story to make the plot clearer and still leave it hanging like they did. I also thought it was cool that the music seemed to move from being non-diegetic to diegetic (ex: the opening sequence where the music is playing as they pan over the mountains, etc. then they move into the scene where we see the man singing and playing the music).


  11. I think the two main characters did display characteristics of being in love. Not all love is loud and boisterous; love can definitely be unspoken. For Kinsky to sell off all of this things to get Shandurai’s husband out of prison, was an honorable thing. He didn’t have to sacrifice his way of life for her happiness, yet he did. I think that since this film jump cuts a lot, we missed a lot of stolen moments the main characters might have shared with one another. It seemed obvious that they bonded over music and that they spent many months entangled in their emotions for one another.
    As far as displacement goes, I found it interesting that in this film, the immigrant wasn’t invisible. Shandurai was seen in her medical classes; in fact, she stood out and excelled. Kinksy obviously noticed her, even when she wasn’t paying him any mind. For those who were confused as to why we were watching this film, I think it is because it showed a successful transition into another world.


  12. In my opinion, Kinsky and Shandurai were just two lost people who happened to find themselves living together. They each were in tough situations and their only company was with each other. Even though neither of them could strike up a conversation with the other person. I do not think that their relationship involved love at all. I think that Kinsky grew up awkward and alone. I think he probably never had experienced love at all, and so he made himself believe that Shandurai was the one for him. I think this is evident in the way he foolishly suggests that they go live in Africa together.

    I don’t think Shandurai loved Kinsky at all. I think that in the end she felt indebted to him. I think in the beginning she hated the gifts so much, because they seemed so trivial in relation to what was happening with the man she truly loved. However, in the end I think she felt sorry for Kinsky. I think that she knew Kinsky would never have a real chance at finding any kind of companionship. She had seen him sell his beloved piano, and so she felt that she must satisfy him or hold up her end of the deal. In the end when her husband is continuously ringing the door bell, I think that she doesn’t answer because she is so upset with herself after what she has done. If she could have remained stronger for a few more hours, everything would have been fine. She didn’t need to repay Kinsky, because he was being foolish in the first place.

    Lastly, I think that Kinskey represented European beliefs about foreign cultures because he didn’t seem to make any effort at trying to learn hers. Instead he came home with African blankets and lamps. This clearly shows the ignorance we have of other cultures. It’s like going to eat Chinese food and then thinking you’ve just been to Hong Kong or something like that. He didn’t take the time to learn anything about the love of his life.


  13. I liked this movie, but at the same time, I felt as though it was just a random series of random events happening at random times. That being said, there seemed to be a detached connection between Shandurai and Kinsky that just left me feeling confused and unable to relate to either character, or able to relate to anything in the film at all.
    In addition, the editing was a little strange, (in particular, the scene where Kinsky is in the garden with the children, juggling oranges. He drops one, knocking Shandurai’s tray out of her hands and when she looks at him, he runs away and there is an odd “speeding up” of the scene and he disappears behind some bushes.)
    I also didn’t seem to see much of a “growing” or “bonding” between Kinsky and Shandurai other than Kinsky paying to have Shandurai’s husband freed. Still, at the end of the film Shandurai sleeps with Kinsky and I was left very confused as to when their relationship had changed. At the beginning of the movie, Shandurai appeared to want NOTHING to do with Kinsky (romantically, at least), and then by the end of the movie, because he did one good deed (albeit, a very generous and selfless one) she suddenly loves him? This didn’t make any sense to me. Perhaps she was just incredibly grateful, bu if she loved her husband that much, I feel like no matter the generosity of the deed, she still wouldn’t have slept with Kinsky.
    Kinsky himself seemed off. Though geniuses often have trouble interacting with the outside world. This reminded me of a quote from “Dirty, Pretty Things” where Guo Yi said to Okwe that “You can be good with people, or good at chess.” implying that highly intelligent people often find it difficult to relate to those around them. This seems to be the case with Kinsky, as there is no doubt that he is a musical genius, but seems to display less-than-thought-out tendencies, for example when he blurts out to Shandurai that he loves her, and proceeds to grab her arms, begging her to love him.
    Overall, I did enjoy this movie, and I thought it was unique, but it certainly made me uncomfortable at times, like when Kinsky often stood, just watching Shandurai go about her daily activities, and his constant attempts at forcing her to love him.


  14. As strange as Kinksy was, I felt that I at least sort of liked him, if only out of pity. He seemed to be genuinely a decent guy who had never learner any social skills and felt completely out of his realm with most adults. Although we don’t see the beginning of he and Shandurai’s relationship, I get the feeling that maybe it took him a while to warm up to her. Others in these comments have said that he seemed controlling. If he was controlling, I don’t see that a sign that he was necessarily bad because of that. It might have been the only way that he knew hoe to relate. That brings up a scathe question: if someone doesn’t know what they are doing is frowned upon or even hurtful, then can they be blamed for any of the outcomes of their actions?

    If something goes terribly wrong now with Shandurai and her husband, who is at fault and why? I suppose though that it doesn’t really matter because it is part of the story that we will never see.

    Like most others here, I think that Europeans are portrayed as interested in Africa but in a superficial and misguided way. They are not sure what to do with the relationship. Africa, likewise, is unsure exactly what Europe has done for them and how to, or even if they should, repay the strange kindness.


  15. I don’t know if I can believe that Kinsky and Shandurai were in love. Their relationship is shown only in small snippets with almost no background. Each long pause and awkward silence between the two lets the audience infer that there might be something more behind their tension but it’s never explicitly stated. I think from Kinsky’s end there is a lot of selflessness in the way he gives away his entire life but I don’t know if it’s done completely out of love. It seems that his actions are a way to “win” Shandurai over, which is not exactly the most clear way to show your emotions. Maybe I’m wrong or I have a skewed few of love.

    Their lack of verbal communication hampers their relationship but does not subtract from the actions of Kinsky. If anything this lack of communication enhances the way he goes about selling off his possessions. Both Kinsky and Shandurai KNOW Kinsky is selling all of his things but neither of them explicitly state they know what is happening. I think this leads to a misinterpretation of the feelings they both have for each other. Kinsky feels he is doing it out of “love” but in actuality he’s just trying to sleep with Shandurai. The entire situation could have been better resolved is both parties just talked to one another about what was going on. Being explicit with each other rather than having every step and action shrouded in a haze of secrecy.

    It seems to me the movie is making a point that Kinsky, as a European, has failed to find something worthwhile in his life. He has surrounded himself with all these statues, tapestries, and his piano and never really found someone he could connect with in life. He has placed possessions over human interaction, or maybe he’s given up on human interaction altogether. He comes from having everything to find he has nothing in his life. While Shandurai, the immigrant/African, understands the value of human life and interaction. She lived simply in Africa and still lives simply now that she is in Italy.



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