“THE PRODIGY” (“THE WONDER”)

Por: Juan Pablo Martínez Zúñiga

The classic horror film “The Exorcist” (Friedkin, USA, 1973), based on the homonymous novel by William Peter Blatty, popularized a narrative that has found various variants over time, in this case a cleric who addresses a phenomenon supernatural connected with logic but that cannot be approached scientifically and can be approached spiritually, something that even an agnostic will admit with relative bitterness. The literary adaptation of the book “El Prodigio” by the notable Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio (“Una Mujer Fantástica”) and recently released on Netflix goes the opposite way, finding a point of reflection on the part of a protagonist disconnected from the metaphysical for a painful personal loss until rediscovering the path of theocentric or metaphysical acceptance. Lelio, along with Dubliner Emma Donoghue, author of the original text, describes in her adaptation how a British nurse named Lib Wright (the notable Florence Pugh) goes to a small town in Ireland in 1862 hired by a small entourage that includes a renowned doctor (Toby Jones) and the local priest (Ciarán Hinds) to observe an eleven-year-old girl named Anna (Kila Lord Cassidy) who appears healthy speaking and behaving normally despite not eating any food for four months on a regular basis. voluntary, which is why she is considered by the locals as a saint. Lib must limit her activity only to observation in situ, to intervene in her daily life which includes daily prayers and contact with her conservative parents, collaborating only with a nun (Josie Walker) who relieves her every eight hours (the crux in terms of The arch-Catholic representation of the community is joined in an exchange when the nurse asks “Why a nun?” and the curt response is “Welcome to Ireland!”). Lib’s emotional torments due to the untimely death of her young daughter some time ago as well as her evolving relationship with Will Byrne (Tom Burke), a journalist who covers Anna’s progress and is skeptical of her mystical survival they will be the elements that constitute a psychology of pragmatic origin -Lib intuits that the girl subsists through some external support or hidden nourishment- while she fights ideologically with the family and the committee, beings of a certain retrograde ilk product of the fear that still prevails due to a terrible famine that devastated the region years ago.
The position of the director Lelio is very clear both at the beginning of the quote and at the end, using a resource called “24 lies per second” by the German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder (contradicting Jean-LucGodard’s position on the matter) where a narrator introduces to the film as the camera shows how a movie studio gradually takes on the scenic characteristics of last century Ireland reaffirming the notion that nothing is true or false until proven otherwise. The idea of ​​food or hunger itself as a symbolic instrument to develop subtle musings about the wear and tear of the spirit and human hearts in the face of irreparable losses enters with intelligence and measured lyricism while the entire staging and acting process produces a deeper understanding of the rich ideas that arise. through marked contrasts, either in the perceptual postures of the protagonists (particularly Lib and Byrne, whose relationship is more the product of their sad past than love or genuine affection) or chromatic, such as the costumes with cold but bright tones counterpointing the dark and amber shades of the ominous shack where much of the action takes place. It is also worth noting the dynamic between Pugh, who once again achieves a high degree of camouflage with her character, and the girl Cassidy, a little histrione to take into account for her excellent performance in this film. “El Prodigio” is the film itself, a methodical work and adequately calibrated to lead the viewer through the labyrinths of man and faith to locate this thesis: Is it a saint who succumbs to the expectations of his own dogmatic condition or an egotistical persecution? for transcending the flesh?blank

“AM I BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU?!” (“IS THAT BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU?!?”)
For many filmmakers, analysts and historians, the rethinking of the narrative and stylistic canons of Hollywood came in 1969 with rebellious and iconoclastic films such as “Easy Rider, I Seek My Destiny” (Dennis Hopper” or “Bonnie and Clyde” (Arthur Penn), but In the eyes of the director, screenwriter, and once New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell, the true counterculture arrived in movie theaters years before with the rise of African-American ideology in Los Angeles and other communities where racial segregation reached the limits of black patience and did something about it Films like “Night of the Living Dead” (Romero, USA, 1968), “Putney Swope” (Robert Downey Sr., USA, 1969) or “Shadows” (Cassavettes, USA, 1959 ) placed the man or woman of color as spokespersons for this anti-conformist process, breaking the paradigms of the sponsor of the Caucasian narrative, announcing that a literal new breed of films would take control of the gringo cinematographic dialectic. . This independent line, as well as the line marked by progressive directors such as Melvin Van Pebbles or Gordon Banks in parallel to the mainstream success of actors such as Sidney Poitier will be the main element to be examined in this stupendous documentary that breaks down the passage of men with chronological and plot clarity. and African-American women in front of or behind the cameras in North American cinema, approaching with intelligence and maturity (that is, without flaming fingers pointing out flaws or complaints) the works that consolidated a film proposal, even going beyond the death rattles or positions of several films or creators celebrated in that moment, either using diegetic tools such as Mitchell’s constant voice-over as our guide in terms of history and personal reflections or the testimonies of personalities such as Laurence Fishburne, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson or Harry Belafonte, speaking and analyzing the meaning of their ethnic presence in the decades of the 60’s and 70’s when the ideological and cultural transformation was the order of the day, including the so-called “blaxploitation” cinema pointed out by one of the interviewees as “the accommodative process of blackness” when it finally found the idols it lacked in the cinema of yesteryear, with cowboys, detectives and police finally showing faces of color. The two and a quarter hours that this work lasts go by like water and are equally enjoyable, so the answer to “Am I Black Enough For You?!” It would be no, never if this is the result.

Email: corte-yqueda@hotmail.com

“THE PRODIGY” (“THE WONDER”)