“Black Bread“: The Flight To The Cage

black bread
“Black Bread” – the film by Agusti Villaronga made by the same name Emili Teixidor novel, with elements of two other works by him, Retrat d’un assassí d’ocells and Sic transit Gloria Swanson, won many awards in films festivals and first film in Catalan language, has submitted the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.
The story develops at Spanish Civil War (1944) postwar period in Catalan village. In the forest 11-year-old Andreu (Francesc Colomer) finds corpses of a man and a boy. Suspicion of murder falls on Farriol (Roger Casamajor), father of Andreu, so he is forced into hiding. The boy believes that his father was innocent, but sent to another village further away from his parents’ problems, he has to reflect the question of his father innocence again.
The film is playing two spaces. One is closed – the houses, the cave, and second is open – the forest, the river, the way, the field. In the closes spaces dominate almost just grown-up. In their space-time suddenly all things become serious and ominous, frightening in its rational and inevitable. However, children are not prohibited in some moments intrude into the dangerous grown-up areas. For example, when the police arrested Farriol, children observe the arrest and thus they start to learn to understand an adult world full of negative things. Andreu dreams later that his cousin of his peers Nuria (Marina Comas) and he finds themselves in a cave and sees how adult males unsex a youngster. These images introduce children to the cruelty of adult existence. However, all the woeful experiences, caused by the invasion of the grown-up world, are offset by open space, reserved for children. Forest, road, meadow, where they tell legends, and sometimes have a fight, but the space is open to the most supernatural, magical forces that are friendly for the child, but oppressed by adults.
In this film one of these mystical creatures is a man-bird, which Andreu observes twice. The first time is when a man-bird drink water from the river, and the second time – Andreu cousin Nuria flitter. In both scenes are the substance of the nudity and the flight, but between the scenes is a major difference. Angelic looking naked guy imitate a bird in the back wings movements and drink the water from the river. His white body color combines with the splendor of the river, and creating the picture of some utopian place and with a sacred angelic chastity impression. That purity feeling is the opposite of the second soiled collision of Andreu with a man-bird.
Nuria stands in the balcony half undressed (contrary to the guy on the river nudity) and replicate bird flight. Looking at it there is no thoughts of beauty and spirituality. For girl can be seen in dark, dirty hole in the door and dirty house wall color, emphasizing not so much about living in a family house in material poverty as an earthly child nudity, which, when she flaps its arms, turns into lubricious eroticism. Nuria’s character represents the earthly, the opposite of freedom/flight ideal of Andreu, instilled by his father. Once upon the grenade cut off the hand of the girl, so now her flutter in the balcony is disabled, grotesque and ill-omened fate, because the incomplete hand is like a dead wing, as an allegory of captivity.
Generally the screenplay develops of freedom of human in captivity of human. The first few scenes depicted in the forest shows a place where freedom rules apply. However, although the horse is in the territory of freedom, like one of the most important symbols of her, the opportunity of freedom will soon condemned: horse brutally murdered. All what happens after is marked feeling of incarceration. And really – the lasts film scenes finish unequal struggle between freedom and captivity, poverty and wealth, mind and heart. Disappointed grown-up lie, but perhaps still too young to understand the adult world, Andrew opened his dark corners soul. Lost faith in the authority of his father, ceasing to respect his mother, rejected the proposal hopeful of Nuria escape; he closes in a prison – at school, where everyone wears the same uniforms and receives harsh penalties for noncompliance. Thus Andreu forgets the instruction of his own father that the essence is not that what your mind, and what is in the heart.

by Otilija Kerbelytė

This entry was posted by Kaunas IFF.

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