Monday, August 10, 2009


Lav Diaz's films in my preferential order




I love HEREMIAS nearly as much as DEATH IN THE LAND OF ENCANTOS, but I put DEATH IN LAND OF ENCANTOS above HEREMIAS, because I would like to see DEATH again, because of its complex story. HEREMIAS affects me very strongly, but my desire to see it for the second time is not as strong as my desire for DEATH.


I exclude HEREMIAS BOOK 2 from the list, because the film is not complete yet.


Blake Williams said...

I have only seen Melancholia by Diaz, and I thought it was stunning. The others must be out of this world to be ranked higher!

I'm waiting for my own Lav Diaz retro, but I fear it will never come.

FILMSICK said...

i just finished HEREMIAS (A+++++++++++++++++++++) and i think i have the same order as you but i had to plus DIAZ's surprise film next to HEREMIAS BOOK 1

i think HEREMIAS book1 having a structure of literature but Diaz push it so far by using gazing and concept of cinema

so now he represent what i looking for Filmaker who can cross the line between literature and cinema

celinejulie said...

I think each film of Diaz has some strong points of its own, so each viewer is likely to have different preferential order of his films.

Somehow I think one of the reasons why I prefer EVOLUTION to other films by Diaz is the same reason why I prefer ANDREI RUBLEV to latter films by Tarkovsky. I think EVOLUTION seems to have more stories than other films by Diaz and seems to be less "abstract" than other films by Diaz, so it is the easiest for me to feel involved with EVOLUTION in the first viewing.

I don't think ANDREI RUBLEV is the best film of Tarkovsky, but its story is more interesting than the story of IVAN'S CHILDHOOD, and the film is much easier to understand than his latter films, especially THE MIRROR. My friend says he loves THE MIRROR the most, after he watches it three times. So I think my preferential order for Tarkovsky's films and Lav Diaz's films may change, too, if I watch each of their films more than once.

What I like in DEATH IN THE LAND OF ENCANTOS include:

1.Some parts which are presented in stream-of-consciousness style

2.the documentary/mockumentary parts

3.The devastated landscape

4.The juxtaposition of natural disaster with political disaster

What I like in HEREMIAS is its unfolding of time. I think the story of this film is the easiest to follow.

I agree with what Filmsick wrote about HEREMIAS. I think that if you want to "tell the story" of HEREMIAS, you can do it by writing a short story, maybe just four-pages long. But you can never present the true power of the film HEREMIAS by using other medias. You can never convey the magical sense of seeing the carts slowly passing by, seeing Heremias waiting for a long time for the rain to stop, or seeing Heremias waiting in the forest for almost an hour, by using literature. I think Diaz's films are one of the best examples of films which can't be truly adapted into other medias.

What I like in MELANCHOLIA is the interesting female characters, and the mental/psychological pain. The hero of DEATH IN THE LAND OF ENCANTOS has some mental pain, too, but he (or the film) seems to express it directly. In the case of MELANCHOLIA, the characters seem to express their mental pain indirectly.

The story of MELANCHOLIA reminds me of the documentary DE GUERRE LASSES (2003, Laurent Becue-Renard, A+), which talks about the therapy for Bosnian women who suffer from the civil war, though the therapy in DE GUERRE LASSES is not as extreme as the therapy in MELANCHOLIA.

FILMSICK said...

from the day i finished HEREMIAS till today maybe two days but i still thinking about him where hego and what's he gonna do ?.

It was very very interesting in the way Diaz telling his story ,because almost of the film would like to start from other's people problem and the move to main character (which mean an audience ) but Diaz is opposite.

I think it was very affective because for Heremias he's not just an ordinary guy who lost in the system of corruption it's not only his problem ,but moral his moral conciousnesst

Adrian Mendizabal said...

Why am i so frustrated reading all these comments? I am from the Philippines and i haven't seen any Lav Diaz yet... Am i dead?

celinejulie said...

--Don't ever lose your hope, Blake and ADRIAN. I'm sure one day you will have a chance to attend Lav Diaz's retrospective.

--I just want to add some information about the retrospective here in Bangkok. This retrospective is made possible by the collaboration of many people, including a cinephile group called "Filmvirus" and its friends. So if a cinephile group in Bangkok can hold a Lav Diaz's retrospective, I'm sure this can happen anywhere else, though you may have to be really committed to make it happen.

--Seeing EVOLUTION OF A FILIPINO FAMILY on Saturday, August 8, is such a memorable experience for me. The film is great, but what helps make this experience truly special is its venue. This film is shown on the third floor of Conference of Birds Gallery, in a room which can serve about 15-16 people, without chairs and air-conditioning. So we saw this 11-hour film by sitting on the floor, using four electric fans instead of an air-conditioner. And I didn't feel any physical discomfort at all while seeing it.

--Filmsick, I think Heremias is a very interesting character. I don't know what I would do if I were in his position. I think if I find out that no one is brave enough to help the girl, I will just leave the town and let the girl be killed.

DEATH IN THE LAND OF ENCANTOS unintentionally makes me wonder what films from Myanmar would be like if Myanmar becomes free in the future. The story of DEATH IN THE LAND OF ENCANTOS makes me think about the Nargis disaster and the political oppression there.

Unknown said...

Hi! I'm glad you guys could see the Lav Diaz films!
We programmed a retrospective of all his films in Chile, last July, during the Cine B Festival... so I was a bit busy, but had the chance to see Melancholia... which totally blew me away.
i share FILMSICK's statement... he totally crosses the line between literature and cinema.
and for anyone in any country that wants to show lav diaz's films, go a head its not so hard. i'm planning on organizing one in Perú.


celinejulie said...

I'm very glad to hear that Lav Diaz's films were shown in Chile and will travel to Peru. I guess that some South American audience may have the same reactions towards Lav Diaz's films like some Thai audience. As a Thai person, I found that many things shown in Lav Diaz's films are very similar to things found in Thailand, namely the problems with totalitarian governments in the past, the problems with soldiers, the problems with the state, the poverty, the lack of justice, the natural disaster, the superstitious beliefs, the people's attachment to melodramas, etc. I guess some of these topics may be relevant to South America, too. What is interesting is that though some of these things are commonly found or commonly known in Thailand, they are not commonly shown in Thai films as they should be.

Filmsick also made an interesting comment on MELANCHOLIA. He said that a topic in MELANCHOLIA is very similar to the situation in Thailand. There was a bloody massacre in Thailand on October 6, 1973, which caused many people to flee to the forests. Though 26 years have passed after that event, this massacre is still a controversial topic and left a big scar on many people's minds and in Thai society. Seeing MELANCHOLIA unintentionally reminds us of the big wound in our society, a wound which is not truly healed yet.

Photos of Lav Diaz in Bangkok and on a Thai public bus can be viewed at: