Author: Edgar Soberon Torchia (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Panama
Fredy Torres has finally realized his dream and made his first feature, a tale of the sea that took him eight years to bring to the screen. There are no ghost ships or sirens in love here, but an ambitious work that mixes fantasy and realism, somehow more related in spirit to a few Irish folk tales of seals turned into beautiful women and the seamen they haunt. Son of a merchant seaman who took him for long trips during his childhood, Torres is passionate about his complex story, in which he narrates the introduction of a young woman to mature love, against a background of social and political oppression during the military regime that raged Argentina in the 20th century, including the conflict of the Malvinas Islands (known to English-speaking persons as Falkland Islands). The beautiful sea shots are the visual leit motif of the film, but they have an ominous charge that suggests that something bad is going to happen. My only complaint is that the fantasy elements are so subtle before the magic (and tragedy) starts, that somehow when fantasy takes over the story it becomes a bit too difficult to believe. Perhaps --and this is just my opinion-- it would have helped to stress fantasy a bit during the first, long part that comprises most of the film. Torres based his story on a legend he heard from seamen when he was a child. According to those men (voiced in the film by Américo, a character who plays chess in the local bar, played by Lito Cruz), there was a zone called "The Bell", where time passed more slowly than in the present. There is a secondary tale in the film about a man who has disappeared, but his story is ambiguous, he has no dialogue, so we never know what happened to him. The theme of the "desaparecidos" (missing persons) --frequent in the cinema of Argentina-- is dealt with as a metaphor, so the viewer has the possibility of making different interpretations. This changes when the film follows the fantasy way (interestingly, through a realistic medium: the use of speeches of different presidents of Argentina, up to the present, as heard through a radio). Otherwise, "La campana" is a beautiful film, a pleasure to watch, and a plausible first work, that I recommend.