Pedro Adrián Zuluaga
|The Virgin Spring
|The Night of the Hunter
|Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne
The Virgin Spring
Today, when religious questions and searches are revived in the cinema, this mystery-filled film feels younger than ever. Desire, fear, hope, faith, frustration. Everything is, in "The Virgin Spring", resolved in an impeccable plastic and narrative way. Also, it is a sum of traditions: popular tale, metaphysical drama, fantastic film, in a magically perfect proportion.
The decantation of Cavalier, its extreme stylisation, the subtraction or economy of elements and the sense of all of the above in relation to a female character and the signs of her life, make this film – winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes 1986 – the masterpiece of a director who uses the film as a canvas and who draws the essential with colours, lights and shadows. Cavalier is an ascetic who does not just film a saint, he films sainthood, and achieves a miracle: that we see and touch the invisible through the visible.
Three people (two women and one man) trapped in a boat. Three characters trapped in their desire. At the same time that Buñuel was experimenting with the limits of cinema (and of passion) in his surreal films, the reclusive Mario Peixoto was creating a world of his own in the immense desolation of Brazil. "Limite" is a classic of silent cinema, avant-garde cinema and bourgeois cinema.
With "The Swamp", the Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel transforms the family melodrama and brings to the surface everything that was repressed in this genre. Sexual and class tensions, screams and whispers. The sounds, the dialogues and the bodies of the actors and actresses are put at the service of these discharges and these hidden truths.
"Los olvidados" remains a stone in the heart. A film that equally questioned the Neorealism in fashion at the time of its release, the social documentary, the melodrama, the religious and political tradition and that only leaves the deepest reasons of its characters standing.
This film, with actors in a state of grace, made the road (and helplessness) a dimension of being.
The evocative power of this film remains intact. The soft melancholy, the passage of time, the understanding of life as a spiritual adventure. All from the adventures and misadventures of a family. So simple, so complex.
The Night of the Hunter
There is something unsettling about perverting innocence. "The Night of the Hunter" seems aware of that premise. And the film uses it to create a poisoned fairy tale. With his only film, Laughton set out to film fear, and he succeeded.
French writer George Bernanos gave cinema the material for at least three masterpieces: "Diary of a Country Priest", "Under the Sun of Satan", and this one: "Mouchette". It is not a small thing. We already know that Bresson was an ascetic like Bernanos. And that like any ascetic he was obsessed with the problem of fidelity. Fidelity to the letter and spirit. Always by Mouchette's side, but rigorously observing the environment that mistreats her. The result is that Bresson gives us an absolutely believable and at the same time terrifying world.
Rosetta clings to her work bag like a lifeline. The Dardenne brothers' camera hangs from Rosetta's body, breathes with her. A strange, almost magical symbiosis occurs. Perhaps the cinema reached its maturity to film this obsession (and do it this way), this poverty full of meaning and dignity.
I review my list, I disapprove, I question it, I find it very canonical. However, I see in it films full of humiliated and offended people, of "los olvidados", of many things that order submerges and represses. A cinema, despite everything, placed at the service of freedom and human dignity. Not bad as a destination for an art that was born as a technological conundrum. And that more than a century later, it should continue to be in favor of this purpose, of this urgency.