The day before we met, László Nemes went to see a superhero movie. He didn’t last long. “I found it unwatchable and false, boring and self-referential, a world of ideal people who don’t behave as humans but more like machines.”
He smiles. It’s tea-time in the Islington, north London branch of Caffè Nero and Nemes gently explains that such films infantilise viewers in two ways. The plots let them defer responsibility for the fate of the world to demigods; the way they are shot – lots of signposting, everything carefully controlled – offers a false sense of omniscience.
When Akbar, at the age of only 13, succeeded to the throne in 1556, the Mughal empire was vast and powerful. When he died, in 1605, he left it three times the size: It was a flourishing empire that encompassed much of the Indian peninsula, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, which gained him the epithet of Akbar the Great.
The Aldabra white-throated rail, a flightless bird that lives on its namesake atoll in the Indian Ocean, doesn’t look like anything special at first glance. But the small bird has big bragging rights, because it has effectively evolved into existence twice after first going extinct some 136,000 years ago.
Danny Boyle‘s musical fairy tale about a world without the Beatles, in which an indie rocker brings them back, is really a fantasy of rebooting the Beatles. It’s cute and watchable, but it lacks the magic of discovery.