I just watched this recently, and I’m planning to watch Martel’s other feature length films. I’m not sure what to think of this film. I mean, it really didn’t leave much of an impression or strong feeling with me (either positively or negatively). So I’m interested in hearing from people who loved the film—what made the film so good to them.
Is there no one to defend this film?
OK, here’s some of my general (yet, vague) impressions of the film:
I found the opening sequences interesting (with the clinking classes and people moving like zombies);
Was the film contrasting different classes of people? What was it trying to say about that?
From listening to commentary from Martel, I gather that the references to the citing of Mary referred to Argetinians clinging to tradition (religion) as a futile way to gain meaning and stability in the world;
the boy’s death at the end refers to the fact that anything bad can happen even to decent, stable families (this is a guess).
“clinking CLASSES” thats a marxist typo
Ha! Hmm, I knew I had some leftist leanings, but this is ridiculous.
Could not have said it better myself, M.
Yeah it’s a beautiful film.
So I’m interested in hearing from people who loved the film—what made the film so good to them
Jazz, Lucrecia Martel has said better than anyone else what the film is about:
Interviewer: ¿Es una película sobre la decadencia?
Lucrecia martel: Para mí es más sobre el desamparo que sobre la decadencia. La solidaridad ha sido quebrada en millones de partes desde la década de los 60 a esta parte, lo que hay es un desamparo sin la salida de la solidaridad, siento que los personajes de mí película están abandonados, y me siento yo misma así y lo extiendo hacia la humanidad
Translation by me:
Interviewer: is the film about decadence?
Martel: To me it’s a film more about abandonment than decadence. Solidarity has been broken in a million pieces since the 60’s. That’s what we have, a state of abandonment without the option of solidarity. I think the film’s characters are abandoned, I feel that way myself and I project that feeling over the rest of human beings.
There is a scene in the film where the girls go with these people to a kind of lake and fish with “machetes” (big knifes). I was really nervous. It seemed as they were murdering each other. In a way it’s like these characters are there just waiting to be damaged. And nobody cares. There are more examples of threat in the film.
Then, The Swamp can be seen as a political film.
It’s kind of a bleak point of view isn’t it?. But somehow the world of Martel has sparks of incredible love and it’s not devoid of humor. I really love this film.
Nothing is happening, everything is happening.
Each shot detailing the crumbling interiors of the land and the people.
The film definitely felt like socio-political commentary, and I think that was part of the difficulty I had with the film; I just felt either the themes seemed pretty well-worn or whatever I didn’t understand stemmed from my lack of understanding Argentinian history, culture and politics.
I like Martel’s filmmaking; but I preferred Holy Girl.
Well yeah… but I call it political because it is concerned with the state of the relationship between human beings (the others?). Political in the broadest sense of the word. In any case Jazz, I think she is talking about human beings in general and not about a especific country. The abandonment applies to any place in the world though it’s true that she has to be informed by her especial condition.
There are more than hints of Renoir’s social satire in Rules of the Game, also Tarkovsky, Malick (interface between wild nature and unruly humans), i see elsewhere it’s been compared to Antonioni but he is more inclined to elegance than an entangled style, space to claustrophobia.
Abandonment, for sure, and indolence- bourgeois class too lazy and apathetic to answer the phone, to see to a wife/friend needing medical attention, to attend to the pool become a festering unhealthy swamp. The kids come off better in the film than the adults- with the failed adults it’s the kids who attend to their mother’s need for hospital. There’s some hope, but some of the kids naturally have picked up the faults of the adults- racism, apathy to animal suffering or plain brutality (while Indians are criticised for petting the dogs). The Bourgeoisie here have the faults that are commonly ascribed to Indians. A society of macho preening and posturing (with receptive female eyes) and inevitable violence, anxiety over regulations, border controls and unknown territory (of interest for shopping bargains), of concern with outward appearance- plastic surgery for scarring- than attending to family; a mother unaware of a son’s presence and injury, another (less wealthy and more sympathetic) mother aware of potential danger but lacking further foresight or control.. As does her husband. Confusion, drunkenness, overlapping dialogue/chatter, insensitivity to nature, a sense of ominous foreboding, gathering clouds, far from Tarkovsky’s spiritual reverence for nature. Instead, religion at second hand via TV and the media circus. Indians criticised as piled on top of each other, but it’s the families here who are physically chaotic. Adults who visit without any real enthusiasm or respect for their hosts. Individuals with their own little worlds (some stated, others for us to wonder at), in higgledy-piggledy relationships. Sensuality that is unconsummated, lack of real attentiveness, passion or love. Affectionate physical touching pushed away. A brief joyous burst of dancing and coming together (brought about by the good looking son) later overturned by partying that leads to violence againt him. Marriages turned to separate beds, and again outward appearances dominant- the husband with his hair dye, the wife concerned about the sheets. It’s not hard to see who is more centred and dignified, Bourgeois master/mistress or Indian servant.
Yes, abandonment and lack of solidarity, Bourgeois society as a festering unhealthy swamp. Quite a critique. And yet it doesn’t feel too forced, cos the “acting” is superbly handled, it seems very real, there are various layers to work through and maybe they all have their reasons..
I’ve got nothing to add that Kenji hasn’t excellently added already, but some things I noticed that he pointed out:
“The kids come off better in the film than the adults- with the failed adults it’s the kids who attend to their mother’s need for hospital. There’s some hope, but some of the kids naturally have picked up the faults of the adults- racism, apathy to animal suffering or plain brutality (while Indians are criticised for petting the dogs). The Bourgeoisie here have the faults that are commonly ascribed to Indians.”
“Indians criticised as piled on top of each other, but it’s the families here who are physically chaotic.”
This movie is very much about people, their manerisms, and world view. Fargo is very similar to this film in that regard though this one desn’t have even 5% of the plot Fargo has. So, in a way I can see how it can be difficult to understand. You have to know a lot about the US to enjoy Fargo to the fullest. I would assume you have to know as much about Argentininas and latin culture to really understand what’s going on.
The opening scene is one of my favorite opening scenes ever.
i’m getting it this week :)
@RUBY – it is well, well worth it.
it is an amazing film! i really loved it! what Kanji writes about – it’s all true, it’s all there – and probably even more. however it is not up in your face kind of social critique; you feel for these people too. + amazing cinematography. + i loved its humour. + everyone looked so convincing (‘featuring a primarily non-professional cast’).
i guess, what’s more important, this film has its own quite special and distinct character, mood – if you don’t like it, well, no way you’ll appreciate this film, even if you agree 100% with the messages it sends.
Of her three films, this is probably my favorite. I enjoyed the tone, the vibe, of this film a lot.