NOVOCINE
PT

20

FRAGILE AS THE WORLD 2001. PT. 90 min


a film by Rita Azevedo Gomes.

Digitization by Cinemateca Portuguesa - Museu do Cinema, under the scope of the Recovery and Resilience Plan. A measure integrated into the Next Generation EU program.

Vera and John are two teenagers in love. Apparently, their life does not present them with any problems. They both have family and friends who love them. As the teenagers that they are, their whole life has been defined by others. The couple feels they have no space, and especially no time, to live their passion. Besides being busy with their studies, their homes are far apart. But the biggest problem is that they feel that their own time does not allow them to love each other. Trying to define their future, Vera and João start an escape plan. With the same innocence with which they participate in a children's game, they flee from their homes, and move away from their land. The couple isolates themselves in a forest. There, they make a pact: they will never be separated "for anything in this world."




text by Teresa Vieira

Through the reflection of the water that runs, we see the infinity that is extended above us. Through the ruins of an inhabited place, we circulate along the potential of history(ies that are still to be told). It all starts in color – in a palpable beginning -, in a passage adorned with melody, with this instrument that transports us to the familiar realm of the imaginable. A trait of the notes of tales, fables, myths: notes of beauty, innocence, curse and tragedy, gathered in a common space. The records that constitute a part of the popular and cultural memory. Inheritances that come to us from the creations and formulas that, in their particulars, raise a recognizable universal, carrying in themselves the “beyond-real” (from it) that allows us to dream as well as fear (and vice versa and all at the same time). We cross these fields in Fragile as the World. And at a certain moment (here, we distance ourselves from the linear timeline), we hear that myths are built of our fears – particularly, the fear of lack of meaning, of life’s aridity. This is when storytelling (fabulation) – this love for something more, for something so uniquely ours and yet so universal – might bring, like the first melody, a certain bittersweetness to those who allow themselves to be led by the paths that were laid there. And so, we carry on.

We leave color behind and move on to the (supposedly) visual binary of the idea of a filmic past: black-and-white (where we remain, but not always). Thus we take the first of many steps in this film which tells us the impossible love story between two young people. Vera and (her) João. Two people that fate has somehow connected (we don’t know when, we don’t know how; it doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter how), who, faced with impossibility, are led to create their own alternative route towards the full (or utopian) experience of love – this wholeness that guides us (and them). Vera captures our gaze from the very first moment and her family relationships are what initially brings us closer to her. If at the beginning of this text, we spoke of heritage passed down through stories (told, created, repeated, marked in textualities and oralities), we are now also speaking of the passage of tradition, of condition. And so it begins: in the transmission of a testimony - from mother to daughter. To know Vera is to know what she has learned from her mother, her grandfather, her father – either in a continuation of what she received or in an escape from it. And we remain there, in what could be described as the first part of this film: listening to what forms the atmosphere and what constitutes the situation of one of the two parts (this wholeness, too) in the promised romance. We understand that the idea of a life change comes from her own background: Vera’s mother and father went through it. We understand that the connection to spirituality – one of reality’s poetries – binds grandfather and granddaughter. We understand that there is a different formula she wants to find and live for – and in – herself. To know Vera is to recognize in her gaze the feeling of someone who has lost herself – in that moment of the encounter – in love. Many of her words are in the place of the unspeakable: the expression of someone who seeks and fights for what the heart (that “noble muscle) longs for.

The real immersive moment in the – always unique – universe of the couple takes place in what could be described as the second part of the film: listening to the sensations and emotions that are constantly exchanged between Vera and João, but also between the couple and all of the elements in the forest – or the natural world – that surrounds them. Their love shines through in the gestures of their bodies. Crossed in parallelism, in perpendicularity, In images we feel as beautiful and passionate in their sincerity and majestic simplicity: images worthy of symbolic posterity, where they might already be – or will remain. In the images of eternity, in the books of the ephemeral history of humanity, in which love pierces the passage from life to death and might also cause it. This is when the tragedy of the sublime is sensed, awaited and materialized – the fate that many expect, that many recognize. And so, here’s how the myth is created, here’s how the film is made, here’s how we see the outcome of it all: in a river that flows (forever).

If all this – or at least if the notion of overwhelming feelings – suggests a line of dramatization, of exacerbating gestures, words and situations, the truth is that we are taken by a continuous flow of serenity (perhaps of feeling of desolation or perhaps of what, deep down, life is). In the restless serenity of a time and space of its own: of permanence in the sounds of the natural – being present where we are, without the frills of constant musical imposition –, in places where movement extends beyond the (so called) action.

However, we’re not caught in what escapes the artificial: we don’t leave the punctuations of fantasy or the lines that any romance demands. Whether it’s in the words of the most diverse authors – the theatricality of word and voice -, or in a fog that suggests an escape into an imaginary, which simultaneously blocks and expands what our eyes are allowed to see. And, at a certain point (here we are once again escaping linearity), we hear, in addition to a taste for the fog, a reference to the fear of forgetting – and how you can forget what is most important.

To forget and to remember is to engage in the game of light and shadow, of the stripped fields to their blooming. Finding love is as much about forgetting as it is about remembering; feeling the heat of the sun that burns relentlessly, losing itself in darkness; running through a deserted field and letting your body collapse in a bed of flowers: the power of a sigh that screams to infinity everything it wants, everything it dreams, everything if fears and everything else. An essence of a truth that is rarely tangible – and often only aspired -, but that remains in the possibility of existing (in individuality and communion). An eternal connection to the world (such a fragile one), to an “other” and to all of those who inhabit it and who will live through it.





directing and script RITA AZEVEDO GOMES cast MARIA GONÇALVES, BRUNO TERRA, MANUELA FREITAS and DUARTE DE ALMEIDA cinematography ACÁCIO DE ALMEIDA sound ANTOINE BONFANTI, JOAQUIM PINTO, PEDRO MELO, PHILIPPE MOREL, RICARDO LEAL art direction and costumes PAULA MIGALHADA and THOMAS TOUTAIN editing PATRÍCIA SARAMAGO production PAULO BRANCO digitalization CINEMATECA PORTUGUESA