The first one to leave an answer to my question below about North America’s cinematic style – of lack of it – and retweet this to five people, wins a signed copy of my latest novel, The Drawing Lesson. Don’t forget to leave your email address.
What do you hope to be doing at age 101? Not expecting to reach that age, I guess I’ve not thought much about it. If I made it to that age, I’d be happy just to have a few senses and some intellect left.
But there is a man, who is 101 years old and he is an active film director. Manoel de Oliveira was born in Oporto, Portugal. In fact, he was making films before the talkies. He has directed dozens of documentaries, short and feature films. His film, Journey to the Beginning of the World won two awards at Cannes. Many other of his films at Cannes have won awards in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Still prolific in later years!
Saturday night at TIFF, I saw his most recent film The Strange Case of Angelica. The words “beautiful” and “charming” leap to mind.
It’s a story about a photographer, who is asked to take the last photograph of a beautiful young woman after her death—on her wedding day. Physically she is perfect (that is, no trauma) and she has a smile which is as enigmatic as that of the Mona Lisa. Come to think of it, perhaps she is reminiscent of the fairy tale loveliness of Sleeping Beauty who needs the kiss—the awakening—of the Prince. Myth and folklore are often the underpinnings of great stories.
As he takes her picture, she comes alive and smiles alluringly at him. Of course, this is to his eyes only. She visits him in a dream and they fly off through the stars together in a blissful sequence. Upon waking he is possessed by her spirit. Having visited such “absolute space” with her in his dream, this world seems gross and absurd. He cannot be comfortable here. And so he seeks to capture in this world, until finally he joins her in death.
Like so many indie films, this was gorgeously photographed. By contrast, the camera lingered with almost erotica passion over the beauty of this world—the photographer’s room and the breakfast room of his boarding house are nearly caressed by the camera’s vision.
In my mind, the question arises—Why are so many non-North American films photographed so beautifully? Do North Americans not take time to look at their surroundings with love? Are we too engrossed with keeping the plot moving that we don’t take time to really look and consider what we see?