Monday, August 1, 2016

Spain tries a new version of García Lorca's Blood Wedding via Paula Ortiz's THE BRIDE

One of Spain's national treasures, poet/playwright Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) is thought to have been assassinated by Spanish fascists, though as of now, I believe, his remains have not been recovered nor identified. One of the hallmarks of Lorca's best-known plays -- The House of Bernarda Alba and Blood Wedding -- is buried passion, and as the man was a closeted homosexual (what sentient being would not have been in the Spain of that day?), this theme seems appropriate indeed.

With THE BRIDE (La novia), the new adaptation of Blood Wedding by Spanish filmmaker Paula Ortiz,(shown at left), we're getting what may be the version that suits our modern sensibilities best. At this year's Goya Awards, the film -- nominated for a slew of prizes -- won only two: for Best Supporting Actress (Luisa Gavasa, shown below, who gives a very strong performance as the groom's fraught mother) and Best Cinematography (quite gorgeous and plenty versatile by Miguel Angel Amoedo).

Why only two wins? TrustMovies' guess is that the answer, like the movie and original work itself, is all about passion. And it is very difficult to translate pure passion into any kind of rational, comprehensible form. (That's what passion does, right? It overrides all else.) Ms Ortiz makes a terrific stab at doing just this, and on some fronts she succeeds.

The filmmaker combines image, song, dance -- and always that passion -- into a gorgeous tapestry, and her film is full of wondrous images (as above and below): bold, poetic, beautiful. There's poetry in the dialog, too (adapted from the play by Ms Ortiz and Javier García Arredondo ); there would be, of course, given García Lorca's penchant for it.

Initially, all this works well. It stuns us, letting us know that something horrible has taken place, so that we need to know what has happened and why. Eventually, though, even as we learn the answers, enough specifics are missing so that we finally give up. "Yeah, yeah: You two love each other beyond all reason and recompense. What else is new?" (What helps make Ms Gavasa's performance so strong is that she is given enough of those specifics in the screenplay/dialog to create a rich, full character.)

My spouse gave up on the movie a little over halfway along. I persevered, due somewhat to duty (I am covering this one, after all) but also because of the film's great beauty and my respect for Ms Ortiz's brave attempt and partial success. (This director made the lovely From Your Window to Mine aka Chrysalis a few years back.)

The movie traves back and forth in time -- even into the future, via one creepy character -- with intelligence and economy; the landscapes are severe yet gorgeous, full of rock formations as phallic symbols; and the interiors (shown above: dank, dusty and seemingly never-been-cleaned) befit this mostly barren territory to a "t."

Inma Cuesta (above, right, from The Sleeping Voice and Cousinhood) makes a properly beautiful and passionate bride. Giving her a bit more specificity via dialog would have probably done wonders for the overall performance. Alex García (above, left) makes an appropriately hirsute and hunky object of her desire, while Asier Etxeandia (below and recently seen in Ma Ma) plays well the loving bridegroom finally driven crazy by all this passion.

From Outsider Pictures and running 96 minutes, the film has it theatrical premiere down here in South Florida, due, I suppose, to our very large Hispanic population. I hope it will find other outlets across the country, as well, because it deserves to be seen. For now it hits Miami at the Tower TheatreFort Lauderdale at the Cinema Paradisoand in Hollywood, also at the Cinema Paradiso.

One cannot help but wonder what García Lorca (shown above) might have been able to do with his immense talent, had he lived longer than his cut-short-by-those-idiot-Franco-philes 38 years.

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