Wednesday, November 30, 2016

“Neruda” Runaway Poet

By José Alberto Hermosillo
“Neruda” is a cinematic work of art and poetry, full of temper and passion. This is the perfect antihero movie. Terrific cast!

Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda wrote his famous “Love Poems” in the same romantic way we saw in the Italian Academy Award winner “Il Postino.”

Pablo also engraved in his “other poetry” the suffering of his people with an indelible mark for social justice. His poems were a patriotic manifesto against the government of Chile making him Public Enemy Number One.

The intricate script of "Neruda" cleverly separates fiction from reality, with the intention to provoke a discussion about an important part of Chile’s history.

Abruptly but awkwardly, the film opens with a vigorous discussion of Pablo Neruda’s bourgeoisie lifestyle and the accusations of treason from members of his own Communist Party in 1948.
While trying to defend himself, actor Luis Gnecco plays the not-so-charismatic persona of Pablo Neruda. He demystifies the figure of the poet. From a Saint, Hero or Demigod, to a human being of flesh and bone.

More shockingly, the audience will meet a very raw, real and even grotesque Pablo Neruda, who thinks he is above everyone else.

At one point in his life, he has to teach himself a valuable lesson: how to be humble.

A few minutes into the film, the investigator Oscar Peluchonneau played by Gael Garcia Bernal begins the narration of the persecution of the poet.

The beautiful cinematography starts its dramatic progression with colors and meanings. From the dark brown of the lobby of the Chilean Congress to the yellow of the city and sepia of the countryside, then the deep blue and almost purple of the port and sea, the film moves to the bright white light of the snow and ends with the sharp colors of Paris.


Neruda’s wife is an upper-class Argentine lady played by Mercedes Morán, who cleverly says, “Communists hate to work, but they love to burn down churches, and that makes them feel alive.”

The editing of the film is not quite there. With its rough start, is hard to learn who is going to be the main character... the investigator or Pablo Neruda. 

With the writings, poems, and lyrics inspired by the poet, the film gets better as the script solidifies. The terrific group of actors makes their character growth spiritually all the way until the end.

“Chile has not freedom of speech---” those words were a declaration of war from Pablo to the Government. He went even further; to qualify President Gonzalez Videla as a Traitor.

The film also refers to the concentration camps in Chile, where members of the Communist Party, students and detractors were incarcerated.

Those were the “Desaparecidos,” the hundreds who vanished without a trace by the Government. Augusto Pinochet was the person in charge of one of those concentration camps. He later becomes Chile’s Dictator.


In a very "noir" style, the chase between the desperate investigator and sneaky poet has a similar 
approach as in Michael Mann's “Heat.” But “Neruda” is more about the thinker-fugitive with little knowledge of committing a crime, other than the pursuit of his freedom of speech.
Pablo Larrain, Photo by Jose Hermosillo
Academy Award nominee Director Pablo Larrain (“No,” “Tony Manero,” “Jackie,” "The Club"), during the AFI FEST presented by Audi 2016 in Los Angeles, said: "You cannot put Neruda in a box. You cannot describe him as a smart, educated and distinguished because he was someone larger-than-life." 

Larrain added, “It's complicated to put poetry in cinema. Poets describe our society in the way we are.”

Pablo Larrain, photo by Lupita Mendoza.
Pablo and his brother, producer Juan de Dios Larrain, accomplished a magnificent film. 

With "Neruda" and "Jackie," the Larrain brothers make magic on the screen. 
  
The Chilean official Academy Awards entry for the best foreign-language is a trip to the beautiful geography of Chile, its ports and cities, and to the vast Andes region of “Mapuche.”

The last mêlée between Pablo and the investigator could be interpreted as Napoleon's Waterloo.

The film’s enchantment comes when Pablo writes letters and verses on how deeply every character is affected by his life and his escape out of Chile. The meaning of his words describes real life events that were about to happen, as if those situations were part of one of his novels, including the destiny of his wife and the detective who followed him all the way down to the “end of the world,” literally speaking.

The Nobel Prize Winner is the poet who not only enamored women but also broke their hearts. 

Pablo Neruda brought down the walls of hate and abuse of power in Chile. He continued his fight with his writings from his exile in France and Italy. His words gave to his people Hope in one of the darkest times in Chile's history. 
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