A Film Rumination: The Wind Journeys, Ciro Guerra (2009)

7/10 (Good)

On strong recommendation from my sister I finally got around to seeing this unusual Colombian film.  I have to admit, I know very little about Spanish language cinema (especially from the Americas).  Regardless, I found The Wind Journeys a fascinating experience — one I suspect I would have appreciated even more if I knew the cultural background to the gorgeous tableux unfolding so majestically before my eyes.  The cinematography, gorgeous scenery, moving music, and the slight surrealist (perhaps too strong of a word) edge merits finding this film!

Brief Plot Summary (limited spoilers)

Ignacio Carrillo is a Colombian folk singer who decides to give up his accordion and return it to his teacher.  His accordion, decked out with devilish horns, is supposedly cursed — taking over whoever plays it.

As he departs his small town, Fermin, a teenage boy who wishes to learn how to play the accordion (I can’t precisely figure out Fermin’s motivation), sets off after him.  The relationship between the two characters is the emotional center of the film and by far the most interesting plot related element.  They set off across the visually arresting geography of Colombia (absolutely gorgeous) meeting unusual people — engaging in accordion “duels”.  In one of the most memorable scenes involves Ignacio reluctantly playing his accordion for two men settling their scores on a bridge by hacking at each other with machetes…  The cinematography is SUPERB throughout heightening the power of these unusual sequences.

Ignacio is extraordinarily reluctant to play his cursed instrument.  Likewise, he is reluctant to teach Fermin (perhaps in order to prevent him from turning into the gruff man old man he has become).  The last sequence of the film further complicates the relationship between the two main characters and is ultimately somewhat ambiguous.  The plot is definitely not the fulcrum of the experience.  Revel in the feel of this timelessly world…  Revel in the artistry of every image….

Final Thoughts

I must admit, I finished somewhat unsatisfied by the experience.  Perhaps because I am at loss regarding the cultural aspects of the film.  Perhaps because I was so enraptured by the beauty of every image I concentrated more on what I saw on the surface than prying deeper — but I feel somewhat adrift and unable to do so.

Yes, the basic elements we are so familier with are here: the young boy, the gruff yet wise old man, the sage on the mountain top (an accordion repair man), a quest, every changing scenery, unusual duels and tests of “manliness” (whatever form that might take).  At its most superficial the film is approachable.  But I am lacking the knowledge to see the slight manipulations (cultural perhaps) of the archetype.  I want to know more…  The experience was worthwhile…  At the moment, it was only an experience — the vague elicited emotions, and visual resonances are there, but the words are lacking.

Recommended — on rather ambiguous grounds.

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