Thursday, October 11, 2007


Ivan Zulueta is the film maker responsible for the somewhat renowned film Arrebato, which I unfortunately haven't watched yet. Four years before he made Arrebato, he directed this short, experimental film. The film takes place almost completely inside of a woman's apartment. She wakes up to utter chaos, yet remains impassive and apathetic to the surreal explosions that occur around her. All of the doors in her room open and shut with an intense rapidity, while the films soundtrack showers the viewer with bullets. The woman, however, remains unmoved.

For the most part. She walks into the bathroom and looking at her mirror, facing herself, she disappears as the light from a window permeates the frame. She might be a ghost, or she might just not be a person-- regardless, she can't look at herself. This happens several times; she reappears, but is then gone again. And repeat. Near the end of the film the woman looks out the window and sees another women picking up a peach pit that the woman in the room had thrown outside earlier. There is an explosion of light in the sky, and the woman in the room becomes temporarily frightened. The lock on the woman's door turns, and the woman from outside enters. It is, in fact, the woman herself. She is forced to confront herself in a more tangible way this time, and she can take it. She cowers in the corner of her room, then disappears. The simulacrum of the woman who has entered from outside removes her sunglass, lays down in the bed, and falls asleep.

While the film is mainly an exercise in montage, it actually ends up being quite a powerful short. There is an utter intensity in the film, due mainly to the ferocity of the soundtrack, which succeeds in pushing the viewer into an anxious emotional state. This anxiety contrasts with the initial impassivity of the woman in the first part of the film; but this dichotomy serves to only increase the tension that's present. The viewer is on edge. In a way the film becomes a bit horrifying. The film explores similar themes to Maya Deren's landmark Meshes of the Afternoon, but while Deren's film was essentially feminine, Zulueta's film is essentially anxious. The films are permeated with completely different tones.

As I briefly mentioned before, much of the film is bathed in rich, natural light. The protagonist interacts with this light in a sort of paranoid dance; mingling with it, hiding from it, rejecting it, and ignoring it. Aside from the aesthetic value that the natural light provides, it works as a catalyst for much of the woman's decisions. In the same way that the light acts as another character, the room itself seems to mirror the woman's emotional state, since she cannot seem to express herself. The chaotic nature of the wake up scene seems to imply a sort of mental chaos, but the woman is divorced from herself and cannot express this emotion through her own body, so the room does it for her. Crumpled up paper spills out of a toilet without any motivation, this frightens the woman; is this representative of more of herself escaping?

Finally, the film is a very sensual film. Not sensual in terms of eroticism, but rather, all five of the senses are directly addressed, insomuch as the medium of film can approach the senses. As I mentioned before, the fervent soundtrack immediately makes the viewer aware of sound, and more so the fact that he is indeed hearing. The images are in constant flux so your eyes cannot relax, there are almost no static shots; everything dynamic. There is also a moment in the film (which recalls the woman in Kenneth Anger's Puce Moment going through her hanger of dresses) when the woman strokes several different fabrics; the saturation of color working to almost extend the physical reality of the fabric to our own fingers. We reach for our own clothes with a desire for touch. Taste is addressed by extended (extensive in the context of a ten minute film) scenes of eating and un-eating the aforementioned peach. The camera lingers on the woman's mouth as she inserts the peach into her mouth, chewing vehemently. Smell is addressed in a very minor, but potent way, by a lingering shot of heat rising from a fresh cup of coffee. The camera is positioned at a subjective angle to imply the viewer in the position of the woman, and the direction of the heat waves, were there no "fourth-wall," would head directly to the viewers nose.

It's an interesting collection of ideas that adds up to a very experiential viewing. It's abstract horror, and it's addressed in a very unique way, and I can safely say that I've never seen a film approach terror in the same intense, sensual manner. It's beautiful.


Blogger Dr. Insermini said...

You'll love Arrebato

and thanks for the list below!

2:49 AM  
Blogger sedmikrásky said...

You'd definitely love Arrebato. It's a shame it hasn't been released with English subtitles.

Until three years ago, it wasn't even released in DVD in Spain. I remember watching on TV many years ago, but the film reels were projected in a wrong order, so a whole generation of Spanish viewers thought Arrebato was even weirder than it really was! ;-)

Wonderful blog, by the way.

9:18 AM  

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