“In the cinema there are no miracles since Dreyer died.” Says one of the best characters in Close the eyes, the particular miracle that Spanish cinema has experienced in this Cannes 2023 with the return to the big screen of the most legendary of its living filmmakers. Victor Erice he did not come to the Croisette to present the brilliant fourth feature film of his career, 31 years after the previous one the quince sun, but the echo of the well-deserved ovation that he has provoked will have reached him.
Of echoes, images and stimuli from other times treats precisely Close the eyes. A script by Erice himself and Michel Gaztambide (There will not be peace for the evil ones) which stars the elusive film director and writer Miguel Garay (played by Manolo Solo) that decades ago he withdrew when he was unable to finish shooting his second feature film: the main actor, Julio Arenas (played by José Coronado), disappeared in the middle of production without a trace.
The mystery becomes relevant again when a television program takes an interest in the case and contacts Garay to recall it. As a result of the broadcast, new clues will begin to emerge about what happened and the possible unknown whereabouts of Arenas. sounds like detective plot, and it is, but in a way that He is in no hurry to advance any investigation, but deviates from pleasant meanderings of everyday life de Garay and the echoes of his broken past.
What is not seen
Erice is a great dowser. A masterful director of the unseen: everything that could not be named in The spirit of the hive (1973), the unknown in The South (1983) or the passage of time through light in the quince sun (1992). Close the eyes is full of non-existent images that are alluded to or are attempted to be invoked. Like that impossible movie because it’s unfinished, The look of goodbye of which Garay only filmed the beginning and end, but to which he returns as a ghost from the past.
The first magical minutes of Close the eyes belong to the look of goodbye and To say that they are a delight would be to reduce the awe they cause. It’s like suddenly accessing unpublished material from The South and discover that it contains a pulp story (with a Josep Maria Pou of mountainous scenic presence that chews and tastes the scene), or being able to look at that adaptation of the haunting of shanghai that it did not come into existence but here Erice has revived it.
The change of plane to the present hurts, how it hurts to leave the happy arcadia of the movies, those comforting stories with exciting and well-defined adventures within fiction, where wealthy gentlemen smoke cigars and send you to the other side of the world. On the other hand, in real life we have the Light Metro of a gray and rainy Madrid. Close the eyes stage so much the desire to return as its impossibility.
Or your need, for that matter. he asks Ana Torrent, in the role of Arenas’ daughter, when the possibility arises that her father has not died. Why go looking for him? Why try to recover something that where it has really existed the most is in the field of imagination? Garay answers that, at least, it’s worth a try. Perhaps Erice concluded the same when embarking on Close the eyes: he was going to recount that quest on his own terms.
But we can’t go home anymore, like I said Nicholas Ray in the seventies. Yeah Classic cinema and closed stories have been buried for a long time by the weight of history, there’s no point crying over the wreck. It is possible to return to them to close circles, like the wide-open eyes of Ana Torrent that resound from The spirit of the hive under the eyelids of his character in Close the eyes, but, after all, the power of an old movie goes as far as it goes.
That It can be a lot or a whole world, Like the power of a look. A concrete gaze, that of her lost daughter, sought the magnate of The look of goodbye and a specific look wants to achieve Garay de Arenas. The sublime image in theory may be in the reverse shot of a film capable of revealing the complete identity of a specific viewer.
But in reality the most important thing in life may be elsewhere. It can be the reunion with an old lover, the memory of your deceased son, the way to tie sailor knots or a night with friends singing My Rifle, My Pony and Me. Pure scenes, built with the sensitivity of an Erice who overcomes the fact that cinema today is something else. The perfect dowser to make visible all those hidden things that they are seen with their eyes closed.
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