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My Diary

Watching ‘Harry Brown’

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the cinema last. I’m fussy about what movies I watch and everyone I know is into action films. They don’t want to watch the same movies (I am a Literature student and prefer to watch something with some kind of sophistication). So yesterday, I figure, because someone asks me, I might as well just go and watch this movie, ‘Harry Brown’. See what all the hype is about.

We get to the cinema – Showcase in Newham. It’s packed out. We go in. The queue is huge. The cash machines have broken down. To be fair, it is the first time that I’ve ever seen this happen here. The cash attendants are incredibly poor at mental mathematics. They cannot perform a simple subtraction. They mess up our ticket purchase and we have to stand around for a long time explaining why they’ve short-changed us.

My friend goes off to the bathroom. I wait around. In the foyer, they’ve got postcards from the V & A, surprisingly. The Mughal Raj Empire Exhibition. It’s a watercolour I know quite well from the Akhbar-Nama, since I’ve always been incredibly interested in the Mughals, especially Akhbar. He was the fashioner of a truly multi-cultural empire and had let love describe his world. It is the great Emperor himself atop an elephant, surrounded by his attendants, everyone in magnificent robes and sparkling jewels.

We go into the movie theatre. It is practically empty. My friend decides to sit a little too close to the screen for my liking, so I have to gaze up, slightly uncomfortably. The movie begins.

From the beginning to the end, the movie is entirely captivating. It has been at least a year since I have had this experience of a film. Michael Caine is astonishing. The extent of the crime is, of course, exaggerated, but the tangibility of the thing, of the experience… Only when I have watched Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver or Morgan Freeman in Se7en has there been such a feeling… He reminds me of my late, dearly beloved grandfather who passed away this year.

What strikes me most in the movie is an astonishing coincidence, an unconscious affinity of a scene. In a graveyard, before his dead daughter, Harry Brown kneels before the grave. There is a teddy bear placed on top of it, like a comforter for a child’s bedtime and he puts a sheaf of yellow flowers into a vase…

We walk out. I tell my friend it was a great film. We watch a couple walk about in a daze – they’ve lost their car in the parking lot. I’ve got some postcards in my pockets of the Great Akhbar. At home, my mother makes me lamb curry with chapattis. We eat and sleep.

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