Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Tamarind Seed

What comes to your mind when you think of Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards together. Victor/Victoria of course. And 10 (Apart from the fact that they were married to each other). In that sense, The Tamarind Seed (1974), starring Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif and directed by Blake Edwards is a lost cause. You may have never heard of the film. I never did until I picked up a copy at the local library.

First, the film is not for those Julie Andrews fans who like her as Marry Poppins or Sister Maria. Here, she hardly smiles, forget singing and dancing (And what a great smile she has!).

When the film opens, we meet her in the Bahamas, walking alone in the beach, thinking of her dead husband and the very-much-alive lover who has dumped her. One morning, a dashing, moustached Russian gentleman (Omar Sharif) hits on her. She resists a bit and then gives in; they are not going to sleep together, what’s the harm going sight-seeing together. Here we go. Sit tight for a romantic drama.

Hard luck, as we are forced to return to London, where Judith is a secretary to a very important man, and Paris, where Fedeor is a Russian spy. And we are in the middle of a cold, cold war.

For someone who was an infant during the cold war period, it’s very hard to get involved with the politics — the comrades and their ideology, and the British patriots and the British traitors, and so on.

In between are these two people. The Russians think, she is trying to steal information from him. The British think he is trying to convert her to the Ideology. And these two people, they are not even sure they love each other; he is anyways married, and they haven’t slept together as yet.

And when they finally sleep together, you really don’t care.

The title derives from a museum entry in the Bahamas, where on display is a tamarind seed, which looks like a man’s face — a slave who was wrongfully convicted as thief and was hanged on a tamarind tree, the same tree which bore the fruit. Intriguing. But what does it mean?

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