Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Intellectually Pleasing Movie

I saw the 2003 French-Portuguese movie "Un film Parlé (A Talking Picture)" directed by Manoel de Oliveira who was 95 years old. I saw two movies directed by him before. Those were "The Letter" (based on the novel "The Princess of Cleves") and "The Principle of Uncertainty" (see my essays of July 7, 2001, and June 14, 2003), and I liked both of them.

In "Un film Parlé" a history professor, Rosa Maria (acted by Leonor Silveira), goes on a cruise to meet her husband, an airline pilot, in India, together with her little daughter Maria Joana (Filipa de Almeida) through the Mediterranean Sea. In the port cities where their ship makes a stop, they visit historical places, and the mother gives lectures to her daughter. On the ship, Captain John Walesa (John Malkovich) has a dinner with famous women from Marseilles (Catherine Deneuve), Naples (Stefania Sandrelli) and Athens (Irene Papas), and they carry on a conversation about civilization, politics and philosophy in four languages.

Finally a dreadful episode comes, but the scene of disaster is shown only indirectly. It is wonderful that the film was planned before the "September 11" terrorist attack foreseeing the situations of the present world. Rosa Maria's lecture, deepened by Maria Joana's naïve questions, and the conversation among Captain and the three women seem to represent the director's thought about civilization and the future of the world that these should be peacefully kept by seeking coexistence of different cultures. I found this film intellectually very pleasing.

The Japanese title of the movie is "Towa no Katarai," meaning an eternal conversation. It is more elegant than the original title. It was also a pleasure to me that the film showed an old castle, Castel dell'Ovo (the Castle of Egg), in Naples, which I sketched last year (see the sketch).

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