“Nobody makes movies bad on purpose”*…
There are currently over 235,000 films on IMDb; their average rating is 6.31, with half the movies clustered with ratings between 5.5 and 7.2… but someone (or in this case, something) has to come last; and in this case, it’s the Bollywood film Gunday, which weights in with a 1.4– the only film in the database with a rating lower than 1.8.
But Gunday was the top-grossing February movie in Bollywood history, and well-received by U.S. critics: The New York Times’ Rachel Saltz ended her review of Gunday by calling it “downright enjoyable.” RogerEbert.com gave it three out of four stars, and Variety called it “a boisterous and entertaining period crime drama.” So how did it win the race to the floor against such formidable competition as Gigli, or Battlefield Earth, or Troll 2? FiveThirtyEight explains…
The film made a misstep that has doomed it to the bottom of the IMDb pile. “Gunday” offended a huge, sensitive, organized and social-media-savvy group of people who were encouraged to mobilize to protest the movie by giving it the lowest rating possible on IMDb. Of “Gunday’s” ratings, 36,000 came from outside the U.S., and 91 percent of all reviewers gave it one star. The next lowest-rated movie on IMDb — 1.8 stars overall — has a more even distribution of ratings, with only 71 percent of reviewers giving it one star. The evidence suggests the push to down-vote “Gunday” was successful, and that shows just how vulnerable data can be, especially when it’s crowdsourced.
The protest against “Gunday” is the most recent cause célèbre of a Bangladeshi nationalist movement called Gonojagoron Moncho, or National Awakening Stage. Gonojagoron Moncho was founded in response to the trial of Abdul Quader Molla, a Bangladeshi Islamist leader who last year was found guilty of killing hundreds of civilians as part of a paramilitary wing during Bangladesh’s liberation war from Pakistan in 1971. He was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes by the Bangladeshi International Crimes Tribunal. But many Bangladeshis found that sentence too lenient, and more than 100,000 of them gathered in Shahbag Square in the capital city of Dhaka to challenge it.
After months of protests and escalating violence from counter-protestors, Gonojagoron Moncho got its wish. Molla’s political party, Jammat-e-Islami, was banned from participating in future elections, and Molla himself was retried, sentenced to execution and hanged to death late last year.
Flush with success, the movement has since become an online alliance of bloggers focused on protecting Bangladesh’s history and promoting the country’s image. That includes protesting “Gunday,” because of the film’s reference to the Bangladesh Liberation War as the Indo-Pak war. In its first 11 minutes, the movie claims that India alone defeated Pakistan, and implies that an independent Bangladesh was simply a result of the fight.
On Twitter, activists used the hashtag #GundayHumiliatedHistoryOfBangladesh to get the word out about the protests and to ask supporters to bury the film on IMDb. (By using a quarter of their character allotment on the hashtag alone, though, there wasn’t much room for the activists to elaborate.) Facebook groups were formed specifically to encourage irate Bangladeshis and others to down-vote the movie. (A sample call to action: “If you’re a Bangladeshi and care enough to not let some Indian crappy movie distort our history of independence, let’s unite and boycott this movie!!!”)…
Read the tale in its entirety at “The Story Behind the Worst Movie on IMDb.”
* Roland Emmerich (who should know…)
As we ponder the pointing of our thumbs, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo premiered in San Francisco, in which it was set. Vertigo‘s critical arc was the opposite of Gunday‘s: The film received mixed reviews in its initial release, but is now routinely cited as a defining work of the American auteur’s career. Attracting significant scholarly attention, it replaced Citizen Kane as the best film of all time in the 2012 British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound critics’ poll, has appeared repeatedly in best film polls by the American Film Institute… and has an IMDb rating of 8.5.