Movies on Old Age
2 Nov 2013
Umberto D

Director: Vittorio De Sica (1952, Italian, 89 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (96%), IMDB (8.2), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: Hulu.

Similar movies: old age.

Summary: Yet to write.



Director: Akira Kurosawa (1952, Japanese, 143 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (100%), IMDB (8.4), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: Hulu.

Similar movies: city life, death, illness, old age.

Summary: Fabulous movie. One of my all time favorites. The story revolves around Watanabe, a city bureaucrat who has lived a purposeless, listless life for over three decades, pushing paper around. Suddenly, he discovers that he has stomach cancer, so he has about six months to live. He is rattled. He doesn't know what to do. Drink? Spend time with women? Relive his youth? What will give him peace of mind? Is 'khao, piyo, aish karo' the right approach? Or is Leo Tolstoy's short story 'The Three Questions' the right approach? As the movie progresses, Watanabe discovers his answers and comes alive :) Cinematography, acting, story development, the theme - everything is superb.

The structure of the movie is quite unique. There are two distinct parts. In the first part, time moves forward chronologically. In this part, Watanabe discovers that he has stomach cancer and looks for answers. The last scene in the first part is in a restaurant where Watanabe has an intense and honest discussion with a younger female friend on what he should do! He suddenly hits upon an idea. Within seconds of his aha! moment, he starts alighting a staircase while a 'Happy Birthday' song plays in the background.

When the second part of the movie starts, Watanabe has died and people have come to pay their respects. It is at this point that people put together Watanabe's story, discussing how he changed in the last few months of his life. This is a long scene with many flashbacks.


Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället)

Director: Ingmar Bergman (1957, Swedish, 91 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (95%), IMDB (8.3), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: Hulu, YouTube.

Similar movies: death, depressing, old age.

Summary: Wild Strawberries is a great but depressing movie by Ingmar Bergman. The main character is an eighty year old guy who keeps remembering his childhood and early years in flashbacks.

A great movie on old age that is uplifting is Ikiru (1952, Japanese). The main character is Watanabe, who has lived a dull, lifeless existence for over fifty years. Suddenly, he learns that he has about two months to live. He struggles to find meaning in his existence.

I tell my friends that they should watch both movies: Wild Strawberries and Ikiru. Both movies explore the meaning of life: what makes us happy? In Wild Stawberries, the main character does not find answers. In Ikiru, the main character does find answers.



Director: Alexander Payne (2013, English, 114 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (91%), IMDB (7.8), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Similar movies: family, old age.

Summary: A comical, heartwarming B&W movie about an old man who starts believing that he won a million dollars in a lottery and wants to travel 900 miles to collect his money. If nobody will take him, he will go on foot. His son agrees to drive him. They go via a town where his dad grew up, meeting old friends and family.


Bhuvan Shome

Director: Mrinal Sen (1969, Hindi, 96 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (11%), IMDB (7.0), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube, YouTube.

Similar movies: comedy, joyful, old age, village life.

Summary: A cute movie with a simple story. Utpal Dutt is cast in a semi-comical role. He is a grumpy, 50-year old widower and a strict disciplinarian. He takes a break from his city life to spend some time in a village. He is hosted by a family of two: a father and his recently married daughter. The innocence and joyfulness of the daughter ("Gauri", played by Suhasini Mulay) transforms him. The movie is worth watching for her playfulness and her big smiles :) The soundtrack has good classical music.


Dersu Uzala

Director: Akira Kurosawa (1975, Japanese, 144 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (75%), IMDB (8.2), Amazon.

Similar movies: old age.

Summary: Yet to write.


Three Colors: Red (Trois Couleurs: Rouge)

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski (1994, French, 99 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (100%), IMDB (8.1), Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: Hulu, YouTube.

Similar movies: old age.

Summary: Beautiful movie. I first saw the movie around 2006 and loved it. In 2013, I watched it again, paid attention to the dialogues and loved it even more.

The story revolves around a retired judge and a young model. The judge views the world with apathy. He has little interest in anything around him. After repeated exposure to dregs of society, he is experienced and insightful.. but cynical and empty. In his twilight years, he spies on telephone conversations of people in his neighborhood, playing God sometimes. In contrast, Valentin is young, innocent and emotionally strong. She believes in goodness. She exudes empathy and affection through her actions. A chance event brings her in touch with the judge. Slowly, their friendship blossoms.

The storyline is somewhat mystical. It interweaves the past and the present. The judge predicts what will happen to Valentin and his predictions do start coming true.

Over the last seven years, I have heard tragic life stories of over a hundred individuals in first person. So I could understand the mindset of the cynical, retired judge. I have also met people like Valentin who bring joy to our lives through their innocence and positivity! The movie is worth watching for Valentin, who is absolutely charming. Very pretty too! She reminds me of birds, trees, fresh fruit, the laughter of little kids and tiny aeroplanes playing hide and seek in the skies :) I could replay the movie over and over to see Valentin ... just like hiking again and again, to be one with nature.

In a way, the movie is like Bhuvan Shome (1969, Mrinal Sen) in which a grump, 50-year old man (Utpal Dutt) comes in touch with a young woman in a village. Their friendship transforms the old man, making him livelier and warmer to people around him.


Serving Life

Director: Lisa Cohen (2013, English, 85 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (7.0), Amazon.

Watch online: Hulu.

Similar movies: death, documentary, illness, intense, old age.

Summary: A beautiful documentary, emotional and insightful. Prisoners in a maximum security prison in USA volunteer to become hospice workers. They take care of other prisoners who are dying. Everybody is authentic. Nobody is acting. Highly recommended. Amazon reviews are helpful in understanding what feelings the movie evokes. The title of the movie has double meaning: the prisoners are "serving life".


The Lunchbox (Dabba)

Director: Ritesh Batra (2013, Hindi, 104 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (94%), IMDB (8.0), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Similar movies: city life, loneliness, old age, romance, separation.

Summary: Nicely done! A good review at Boston Globe.


Winnebago Man

Director: Ben Steinbauer (2009, English, 85 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (90%), IMDB (7.2), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Similar movies: comedy, old age, true story.

Summary: Winnebago Man is an entertaining, heartwarming documentary about the "angriest man in the world".


Ankhon Dekhi

Director: Rajat Kapoor (2013, Hindi, 107 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (8.1), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: comedy, old age.

Summary: Ankhon Dekhi an engaging movie that made me smile and laugh many times. It follows the journey of a man who decides to believe only his own personal experience, not something that he has heard of second hand. The movie won the 2014 Filmfare Best Movie Award (Critics). Those who liked The Lunchbox are likely to like Ankhon Dekhi.

The movie features Kaise Sukh Soyein (2:42), a beautiful Hindustani classical piece sung by Ronkini Gupta.


Monsoon (Mazhakkaalam)

Director: Vinnie Ann Bose (2017, Malayalam, 1 mins)

Similar movies: death, old age, short.

Summary: A sweet, 1-minute short film! Watch here.


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