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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Fruits of the forest

This is a Festival review of El bosc (The Forest) (2012)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2013
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13 October

This is a Festival review of El bosc (The Forest) (2012)

A film festival is one of those rare places where you can talk to the person who has programmed films that interest you*, and, in this case, as last year, it was Ramon Lamarca for his Catalan films, of which I saw three (and managed one of those twice, the beautifully filmed and constructed The Redemption of the Fish (2012)), and it, with another, Eyes on the Sky (2008), were in my Festival top five at Cambridge :

The Forest (El Bosc)) (2012) has kept me thinking since, not since I did not have a chance to try a review until now, when memories have faded, and reviews tend to be shorter... In this time, there are antipathies between church-goers and the non-chuch-goers who largely make up the Republican forces, and between those who support the Republic and, those assumed to be Fascists, because they question it (they are conservatives). There is one notable exception, in the form of the man, who turns out to have falsified orders to protect a lone woman and her baby at this dangerous time by keeping a unit based at her property.

Another man, Coixo (Pere Ponce), is in love with her, and has been since childhood, but seeks to win her love by such means as seeking to starve her, although he has, probably for similar reasons, protected her from the worst excesses of the Republican forces. He and her husband Ramon (Àlex Brendemühl) and Dora (Maria Molins), who said that he would stand firm (and then fled), are the main characters in this drama.

It really wants to imply that nothing is as it seems - we do not know why the anti-Fascist forces are delayed so long until later - and Ramon has experience of another time that leads him to see many things differently. Effectively, although we do no not know what it was exactly like for him, he tells us that there are other worlds where conflicts are going on, and he learns humanity from this : that he has, as Dora urges, solidarity with the beings who looked after him.

Whether the strange fruit or alien creatures that we see distort our vision, I do not know (I hope not), but they serve to make another world more real (as I elicited in the Q&A**), and they also question our notion that everything is so clear on either side of a conflict.


* I was interested that one character, Coixo, resembled Trotsky (and Dustin Hoffman) : it turned out that one influence that the training from the USSR had had on the Republican forces was to make leaders resemble Trotsky, by giving him as an example.

** In The Q&A, I referenced Diane Keaton and Woody Allen gorging themselves on enormous fruit (in Sleeper (1973)), and asked whether the director had had great fun designing the fruit. He did not answer as such, but said that it had been on a low budget, and that he knew what he had he had been doing when ordering it.

Read here, a review (with spoilers) from a colleague at TAKE ONE, Robbie Griffiths

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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