Friday, October 14, 2011

Matka Edeniin / Un viaje al Edèn / A Journey to Eden

Längtan efter Eden. FI/ES © 2011 Bad Taste Ltd. / Sonora Estudios. EX: Pako Ruiz, Álvaro Herrero, Martín Guridi. P+D+SC+DP: Rax Rinnekangas. Dialogues: Rax Rinnekangas, Nacho Angulo, Hugo Wirz. Digital post-production: Generator Post. Excerpt from Dante's Divina Commedia, Finnish translation by Eino Leino. Voiceover: Nacho Angulo. M: Pascal Gaigne. "Eva's Song" comp. Pascal Gaigne, lyrics: Rax Rinnekangas. Music editing and mixing: Martin Gurídi. S: Heikki Innanen. ED: Jari Innanen. Vicente Ameztoy’s paintings 1993 – 2000 (San Estebán, San Cristóbal, San Vicente, San Ginés, Santa Eulalia, Santa Sabina, Paraiso). Hugo Wirz’s drawings: Hands 1–5 series. Actors: Nachio Angulo (Ignacio), Hugo Wirz (Comaz), Celia de Juan Hatchard (Lucía), Saana Vuorenmaa (Ignacio's daughter), Ramon Zuriarrain (Fireman). The voice of Comaz: Ian Bourgeot. 100 min. Original in Spanish, Finnish and English with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Suvi Salmilampi / Saliven Gustavson. Distributed by Pirkanmaan Elokuvakeskus. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 3, Helsinki, 14 Oct 2011.

Based on the production information: "Rax Rinnekangas is a prolific director of artist's films and documentary films focusing on visual arts, architecture, and modern music. He is also a writer and a photographer. He has published several books on the Basques and is a connoisseur of Basque art history and the oeuvre of Vicente Ameztoy. A Journey to Eden has been planned since 2002 in Spain."

"The French-born Pascal Gaigne, now based in San Sebastián in the Basque Country, is a top composer of Spanish film music and modern concert music."

"A Journey to Eden is a movie of two artists' winter journey in the La Rioja wine country in Northern Spain."

"One of the men, the Basque modern composer Ignacio, now living in Finland, is traumatized by a guilt on his daughter's tragic car accident: the daughter is in coma in a hospital in Helsinki and will be awakened within ten days. The other man, the Swiss graphic artist Comaz living in Spain, is suffering a block in his creative work. His model for his great theme about the human hands, Lucía, in La Mancha, does not want to continue their collaboration."

"During their winter journey the men visit religious paintings in various churches and monasteries in La Rioja, study the way hands are portrayed in them, and discuss Dante's view of paradise and the meaning of faith and prayer. After several episodes the men land into the chapel on the Remellur vineyard in Alavesa in La Rioja. There the agnostic Basque artist Vicente Ameztoy created in 1993-2000 his own modern interpretation on the last blissful moment of Adam and Eve in Eden."

"Visiting the painting the travellers experience a miracle - Adam and Eve come alive. Through their experience the artists discover something new and relevant about their traumas and the meaning of forgiveness."

AA: An artist's film released commercially in the regular first-run cinema programme is a rare treat. Rax Rinnekangas is a fine visual artist whose sense of light and composition make A Journey to Eden worth watching more than once. A Journey to Eden is an image-driven film. The sense of landscape and light resembles certain of the finest Spanish directors such as Medem and Eríce, but the vision of Rax Rinnekangas is original. The film is also a reflection of the relationship of reality (the landscape, the model) and art. And it belongs to the current revival of religious themes in the cinema: see also Eija-Liisa Ahtila's Marian ilmestys (God is the image we make of Him), Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life (the dawn of conscience: the movie is also actually about the tree of good and evil), and Aki Kaurismäki's Le Havre (love thy neighbour, help the child). There is a digital look in the movie: the composition and the light are as good as on a film, but the texture is more like video.

P.S. 1 Jan 2012 (revisited on a screener dvd). My first observation is that the scope aspect ratio of this movie has been designed for a big cinema screen, and much of the impact is lost when the image is reduced to tv monitor size.

Paradise lost: according to the Bible, ever since Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise, men and women have been strangers in their own world. This has been a major theme in key films of the recent years.

A Journey to Eden is my Jussi candidate for the best cinematography of a Finnish film in 2011 [Update 3 Jan 2012] for its composition and its beauty of light; however, the digital visual texture is not ideal for a theatrical screening. The movie is like an excellent moving art gallery exhibition, but the structure is cinematic - a journey. It is a journey to landscapes which are also inner landscapes, soulscapes.

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