Monday, July 01, 2013

À Valparaíso


… À VALPARAÍSO. FR 1963. D: Joris Ivens. Testo di Chris Marker. SC: Joris Ivens. DP: Georges Strouvé. ED: Jean Ravel. AD:  Georges Strouvé. M: Gustavo Becerra. "Nous irons à Valparaiso" sung by Germaine Montero. C: Roger Pigaut (narratore). P: Philippe Lifchitz, Anatole Dauman per Argos Films, Cine Experimental de la Universidad de Chile. 35 mm. 27’. B&w e Col. French version Da: Argos Films per concessione di Capi Films. Sala Scorsese (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna), 1 July 2013

"I wanted to illustrate Latin America’s difficulties through the example of this great seaport, now dispossessed of the prosperity it enjoyed when it reigned as the gateway to the Pacific. Valparaíso was then what Panama is today, but it was de­throned by the canal in 1910s. Poverty overtook the city as its role as an interna­tional port declined, although still today it maintains a certain vitality as a local port. The city is built on a series of hills and I was fascinated by its countless steep stairways and funicular railways. Every­thing has to be carried up. Life is tough and tiring. But people want to live. The rhythm of the funicular in a strange way sets the rhythm for living. Something is going on at every level in this strange, ter­raced city, with its contrast between pov­erty and false wealth. I saw Valparaíso as a symbol of what animates Latin America and of what was about to happen to Pan­ama. I had just seen an odd caricature at the National Library in Santiago, showing Uncle Sam driving a nail into a map of Panama. I held on to this image, which was to prove prophetic. They said I had ‘a nose’ for the future. In fact, if a docu­mentary wants to arrive at the heart of the dynamic development of the story it is telling, it needs to go beyond the topical events and delve into its history. History is my major screenwriter." Joris Ivens, Avec Joris Ivens à la chasse au Mistral, interview with Michel Capde­nac, “Les Lettres françaises”, n. 1034, June 18, 1964

A masterpiece, a film full of the vitality of life at Valparaiso (meaning "val de paradis", "Paradise Valley"), which is a city built on a mountain, and the vertical movement is essential, like in San Francisco. It's full of stairs and escalators. We see the people, the industry, the port, the dances, the wind, the fire, the circus, a fight, and we go back to the big turning-point of the 1910s when Valparaiso was dethroned, and even to the days of the pirates in a playful montage sequence. The final images are about children with their kites flying on the sky, a kite with a cat figure amongst them.

The most beautiful print I have seen this year in Bologna.

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