Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"HISTORIA DE UN BESO"
("THE STORY OF A KISS")

5th Spanish Film Festival
Cinema 1, Greenbelt 3

Don Blas y Andrea




Today I saw a double feature of the famous Spanish director Jose Luis Garci's masterpieces. The first one was shown at 4:30 pm. A poignant romantic film entitled "The Story of a Kiss". This film traces the love stories of two individuals. Don Blas Otamendi, a renowned literary figure and his nephew Julio.

From the very first scene of a snowy bleak afternoon when the whole community learns of Don Blas's death till the very last scene of a snow filled gravesite where Julio bids a tender farewell to his beloved uncle, you are enveloped with a certain poignancy that permeates throughout this film. Each scene reflects a certain warmth that exudes through the screen even though the cinematography is a bit dark and bleak. The dialogue is filled with several references to some personalities in the Spanish literary world as well as people famous during that generation like Albert Einstein.

Don Blas' narration of his encounter with Andrea, the younger lady he eventually falls in love with has a tinge of sadness and melancholy attached to it. While Julio's encounter Bea, on the other hand is fraught with the hopeful aura of a first love. We are shown flashback scenes of Julio as a young boy when he used to vacation in his uncle's place as well as scenes of Don Blas secretive 'love' affair with the much younger Andrea. The director used a clever technique of interspersing both stories in a very fluid flow that the whole movie just glides on by so smoothly. I am somehow reminded of the movie "Doctor Zhivago". It seems to capture the same rich texture of a love story that will endure through the times. A classical rendition of the song "Fascination" accompanies each scene that Don Blas and Andrea are together. Their fascinating encounters which simply consists of talking in the park, in the ballroom or sharing a meal together are very heart warming. It is refreshing to know that love can bloom between two very different people without being physical. That their love was pure and fresh yet in some ways it was very sad that they couldn't be together.

The film is a very dialogue driven one. Conversations abound. Friends gathering around the table to talk about anything under the sun. Lovers talking about their dreams, their hopes and their desires. The plot does move at a slow pace yet you hardly notice the minutes ticking by because it is all presented in a very coherent manner.

I know that not everyone will appreciate this sort of film. But once in a while it is refreshing to simply get lost in a quality film that brings back memories of a golden era in the art of Cinema. A period wherein a story was well crafted, the actors are believable and the main theme deals with a very basic yet classic subject - LOVE sans the distracting computer generated images that seem to be the norm nowadays.

I conclude with a few lines from the haunting song that would now always remind me of this classic film:

It was fascination, I know
And it might have ended at the start.
A passing glance, a brief romance
And I might have gone on my way empty-hearted, empty-hearted
It was fascination, I know
Seeing you under the moonlight above, baby
And I touch your hand and I kiss you
and fascination turned to love

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