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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maboroshi: a radical cinematographic approach

Your spouse left one day to not return any more. It started like any given day. He went to his work, and soon came back in a hurry, to leave the bike and take the umbrella: it was cloudy and windy. In the evening you washed the baby: he was three months old. Then you laid in bed, waiting for him; sometimes he was back very late. Two police officers came instead: your spouse had committed suicide.

At the beginning it had been horrible. Then, some years passed - the kid was now five. Your relatives arranged a new marriage with a widower who was having a daughter. You moved with your son there and started a new life.

It seemed to you that the wound was now healed. Your boy and his daughter coped immediately each other and the new spouse was a kind man. You started to feel love for him: so it seemed.

A visit to the old place made you realize that nothing was healed actually. You realized that it was like your life had stopped in that night. You were not noticing anything new anymore. The same scenes were turning in your head again and again. The same recurrent dreams. The new place was like empty for you. Sometimes you were observing suddenly a room, a piece of furniture; only it was having a unique function: to remind you about the past. Any man or woman, any event, seemed to connect you to a situation from the past. You were living like in a dream that was coming again and again. Two or three moments that were repeating in your mind: moments of happiness with your first spouse, or other moments that had had no significance at all - now they were carrying something like a hidden message, in relation with the suicide that had followed.

And you asked suddenly, why did he commit suicide, I cannot understand why, this question comes again and again in my mind.

The new spouse tried to explain to you, there is a Maboroshi, a cheating light, that appears sometimes to beguile us, and it is hard to resist it.

And you understood that no other answers were possible: you were to live with your wound, because your life should follow your fate. Understanding this was the only way to come to your terms.

This is Maboroshi no Hikari, the movie directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, with Masao Nakabori as cinematographer. The story is told with a large economy of words, of actions, of images: it is a supremely ascetic film. The people are always in the distance, the images always in the dark. The only images that are clear are the scenes remembered by the protagonist: the woman that lost her first spouse.

It is a very radical cinematographic approach. I should say that it cannot be more radical than that. It is the movie from the mind of the protagonist.

But if you have the guts to follow this ascetic movie you'll be generously rewarded. Because it is actually an exquisite artwork. Yes, many images are left in obscurity: it is actually a great play of light and obscure. As for the images that have meaning for the protagonist, the camera is in such moments like caressing the whole: the scenery becomes then pure visual choreography.

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(Cinema asiatic)



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