Saturday, May 04, 2013

FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE (2012, Lav Diaz, Philippines, A+30)

FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE (2012, Lav Diaz, Philippines, A+30)


One of the scenes I like the most in this film is the scene in which Florentina walks in a town, first appearing in the background and then walking towards the foreground of the picture. This walk is repeated a few times in this film. She looks a little bit cheerful at first, and walks in the manner of a little girl. Later on in the film, she looks more and more desperate while she is walking. The cheerfulness and the manner of a little girl have gone. Only hopelessness remains.


I like the manner of a little girl in her first street town walk very much. It makes me think of innocence and freedom. This child-like manner also reminds me of the heroine’s manner near the end of CENTURY OF BIRTHING (2011, Lav Diaz, A+30). The heroine of CENTURY OF BIRTHING becomes mad near the end, and she walks like a little kid, moving freely, not caring anymore how other people may think of her.


The child-like manner of both heroines in these two films by Lav Diaz reminds me of a scene in THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN (1978, Peter Handke, West Germany, A+30). After freeing herself from her husband, the heroine of THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN runs around like a little kid in one scene. Such a freedom to enjoy! I want to do something like that, but I can’t any more. If I do something like that in real life, people might send me to a lunatic asylum. I think the last time I ran around like a kid like that is in 1989 when I was 16 years old.


Maybe one of the reasons why I like “the child-like manner” of the heroines in these three films very much is because I also want to express the little kid inside of me.


The heroine of TO THE WONDER (2012, Terrence Malick, A+10) also runs around freely in some scenes. But this running around in TO THE WONDER doesn’t give me the same ecstatic feelings that I have while watching the child-like movements of the heroines of FLORENTINA HUBALDO CTE, CENTURY OF BIRTHING, and THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN. It is because the running around in TO THE WONDER doesn’t look child-like, but looks seductive. And the running around in TO THE WONDER doesn’t make me think about “freedom from oppression” like in the other three films. In the other three films mentioned above, the oppression comes in the form of the father (FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE), the religion (CENTURY OF BIRTHING), and the marriage (THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN), thus when I see the heroines of these three films frolicking happily, it makes me feel the ecstasy of “freedom from oppression”.


Another thing that I think is interesting in FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE is how “universal” or “specific” the story is. Should I think of this film as a film about an individual, or about the state of Philippines, or about something more universal?


I started thinking of this topic when I tried to make a list of powerful feel-bad films like FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE, and I find that many powerful feel-bad films can be divided into two main categories: films which deal with specific cases, and films dealing with universal conditions.


I think FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE may belong to the second category—the universal. This group of feel-bad films includes THE TURIN HORSE (Bela Tarr), NIGHTFALL (1999, Fred Kelemen), THE SEVENTH CONTINENT (Michael Haneke), L’ARGENT (Robert Bresson), A PLACE IN THE WORLD (2001, Artour Aristakisian), THE KITE (2002, Aleksei Muradov), etc. I think there is some abstract thinking behind this kind of films.


As for powerful feel-bad films which deal with specific cases, this group includes CRY IN SILENCE (2006, Gabriel Biggs), BAISE-MOI, THE MACABRE CASE OF PROMPIRAM (2003, Manop Udomdej), DON’T CRY NANKING (1996, Wu Ziniu), TO BE TWENTY (1978, Fernando Di Leo), THE ATTACKS OF 26-11 (2013, Ram Gopal Varma), COME AND SEE (1985, Elem Klimov), etc.


I think it is difficult for me to compare these two groups of films. Both groups make me feel very bad, but it seems each group attacks my feelings in a different way or attacks me at a different spot in my brain or my mind. I can’t say that FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE makes me feel more miserable than CRY IN SILENCE or is more powerful than CRY IN SILENCE. Both films deal with a girl who is severely abused by her own father. But the heroine of FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE seems to represent “something in the world” for me, while the heroine of CRY IN SILENCE is a specific human being. Both films are extremely powerful and extremely feel-bad. But I can’t say for sure what exactly the heroine of FLORENTINA HUBALDO, CTE really represents.

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