The odyssey of one man from his village to the city and back; more, it’s his journey from a state of absolute innocence to knowledge, disillusionment, guilt.
Filipino director Lav Diaz immerses us in the life and experience of Heremias, so beset by the corruption and troubles endemic to Philippine society. A saga of a modern Jeremiah, A modern parable told with angry compassion.
Heremias (Book One: The Legend of the Lizard Princess)Directed byLav Diaz
Low resolution, pixelated video with some scenes so dimly lit that they are barely visible...
Yet this film stayed in my thoughts for days, even weeks afterwards. I somehow felt such a strong connection with the character of Heremias, and grieved for his loss and sense of isolation, even within his group of travelling companions. Despite the desperation of his situation, his final concern was for another. Genius.
With a series of 20+ minute long takes and a lack of close ups, Diaz' technique is always self-evident - the act of viewership, trance-like, moves from schadenfreude to synecdoche. Heremias' walkabout is never meant to be personalized - his quest for meaning and personal ennui is actually a vehicle for cultural shame. After eight hours, the final release of that shame is notably potent.
Heremias takes himself on a journey to find solitude (the only desire he seems to truly have) only to be confronted repeatedly with the cruelty of not only the corrupt Filipino society - but of the nature of man and nature itself. Heremias' trusty cow pulls him, excrutiatingly over hours, through severe tyhpoons. Eventually and selflessly, Heremias drags himself through the mud for Helena. But it's slightly too long.
This is an extremely simple story, elegantly elaborated. We primarily follow a single character on a somnolent trajectory. The fist plot development occurs about and hour-and-a-half into the movie. There are minor scenes and sequences that shine with quiet poignancy. The lengthy hooligan freakout sequence (w/ its indelibly Shakespearean eavesdropping) is something else. Features Lav's own guitar work. It's bananas.
A very strong film. On the one hand there are beautiful meditative moments, e.g. the shot (between 6 and 8 minutes long) when Heremias leads his cow to the river and carefully washes the animal. But on the other hand there is the provocative passages with the extreme 70 (!) minutes shot showing the young men drinking, smoking, getting more and more aggressive and beating the walls until they are exhausted.
Avec d'insidieuses et souveraines références bibliques, particulièrement à l'endroit du prophète Jérémie, le fascinant cinéaste philippin Lav Diaz déroule et stigmatise en longues plages souvent hypnotiques, les notions de responsabilité et de culpabilité individuelles face à l'incurie et la corruption généralisées des institutions et de leurs représentants, confortées par l'obsédant silence divin. www.cinefiches.com