Reliant on what Herzog calls the voodoo of location, Casa de Lava treats its volcanic backdrop as a key character. A man in a zombified state may represent the disenfranchised state of his land, with Cape Verdeans facing a choice between unemployment at home or hazardous, poorly paid work overseas. Intriguing and beautifully filmed, though the use of a 'white woman in Africa' as a viewer surrogate is a dated cliche.
I can imagine this film being in an unknown language. There's no subtitles, and you have to understand what's going on by the emotions and the way things are said. You could sense people talking past each other, and feel the frustration of people not getting their questions answered. This isn't a zombie film, it's 'Stranger in a Strange Land'.
Is this hell? I love how you slowly realize you're in a poem. I felt like at the end of the day, there were only two characters. You can't do this kind of thing to me with Isaach de Bankolé, let alone in the 90s. We're led to invest in the narrative, but eventually only feeling matters. Casa de lava, something built to live in, something molten and archaic. Love, dry as an island. That black sand beach at night.
On the surface, this is a more conventional film than the other film in Costa's oeuvre. But like all Costa films, there is more than meets the eye and what he is doing here is quite subversive- treating the "story" as landscape and the landscape as the actual story.
A cinematografia deste filme é de uma beleza estonteante. O crioulo requere legendas, e a narrativa não segue propriamente um fio condutor, havendo mesmo cenas (aparentemente) desconexas entre si... mas o melhor é mesmo deixarmo-nos levar pela mão da graciosa Inês de Medeiros neste ambiente que parece ter tanto de inóspito quanto de acolhedor.
Ballade existentielle. Partout les couleurs, la musique. La nuit. La pauvreté. Que cherche cette femme, accrochée aux flancs du volcan île ? Que cherchent les personnages d'Antonioni ? === Existential ballad. Colors, music everywhere, as if to redeem the extreme poverty. The night. What is this woman looking for, in the streets of the island, on the flanks of the volcano? What are Antonioni's characters looking for?
Costa's debt to to Straub-Huillet is expressed in the form of a pictorially-established ontological materialism; human beings, payed lavish attention, have something like the status of things (though things flung into language). CASA DE LAVA, w/ its debt to I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, also centers around spirit, mystery, and the unnameable. There is something of the foggy logic of the weary traveler's undulant dreams.