Sunday, October 28, 2007

First Thoughts on Bella the Movie

What can I say about Bella the movie? It's beautifully filmed, beautifully acted, beautifully paced--it has everything a "nice" "inspiring" film has--except it has some unnameable other thing, something more. Director Alejandro Monteverde has given his vignette a subtlety of symbol that filmmakers like Spielberg and Shyamalan should study. The film has a couple of moments in which the significance of people, things, and events deepen beyond their simple appearance--moments and images which, like icebergs, drag with them the immeasurable bulk of Something More below the visible tip.

The best example of this is the Edenic imagery of the film: riding the train out of the city, Bella gives José a very green apple, then pulls another one out for herself. What distinguishes this from all other tired references to the fall of man is that it inverts it: the apples become a communion, a shared meal. It is a refiguring, not a replay of Eden. Stepping off the train, they walk to Jose's parents' house, and meet his father (read Father?) who puts them to work planting his garden. "It will be Paradise," he says in Spanish. Again, the film takes the simple act of gardening--taking with it the events of the fall of man--and refigures it as Eden should have been--man and woman working together WITH the Father, to "till and keep" the garden.

Perhaps more on this later.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is so cool!

Anonymous said...

I've already seen the movie but you have enhanced my experience of it, after the fact! I hadn't thought of the significance of the apples and of the gardening being like paradise. Great job!

Skyminder said...

Great! That's the whole point of film and literature criticism--to enhance the experience of it!

Elwood said...

Wow, we noticed the A & E and apples, but you pulled out ANOTHER deeper level. The inversion to communion, I love that.
I love your description of the depth of this movie.
I'll probably link to your blog from my post on Bella. My wife pointed out more imagery from the movie that I tried to put into words.
http://bigbogboys.blogspot.com/2007/11/bella-movie-christian-imagery.html

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XC said...

That's the whole point of film and literature criticism--to enhance the experience of it!

That would come as a surprise to TS Eliot...

The only Catholic who has actually looked at this film objectively with a critic's mind is Barbara Nicolosi.

Skyminder said...

Perhaps, xc, but I'm not convinced that T.S. Eliot is the final and authoritative word on defining criticism.

As a future professor of literature, I stand behind my assertion. At the heart of literary studies MUST lie the experience of the work--a very personal and humble Encounter.

The professor and the critic are educators, facilitators of this encounter. Through their knowledge and instruction, they can prepare students or readers to have that encounter. I can never fully communicate the experience I have of great literature or film; what I can do, is guide others to it and give them helpful tools to have their own encounter with the Beautiful and the True.

Christian said...

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