Friday, December 16, 2011

Between Jokes and The Dead / Yoani Sánchez

Between Jokes and The Dead / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

The nothingness, the apathy, the wall at the corner to sit on, forever
wasting time. The hero of the film "Juan of the Dead" was already acting
like a corpse before the zombies invaded Havana, a city in fact shrouded
and dead. This fictional antihero calls on his creativity and ingenuity
– in the midst of chaos – to establish a blood-chilling business. "We
kill your loved ones," reads the slogan of the company he creates with
other pals as dysfunctional as he is; its market niche is to hunt the
living dead. An enjoyable script mixes humor and fantasy, special
effects and unretouched reality. On this side of the screen viewers are
caught between terror and snickers, watching the image of the Capitol
destroyed by a helicopter and the emblematic Fosca building reduced to
rubble. They laugh and cringe at the same time.
Directed by Alejandro Brugués, "Juan of the Dead" is causing a furor in
the Cuban capital. It has provoked extremely long lines outside the
movie theaters, some of which end up with police beatings and pepper
spray falling on dozen of eyes. But the curiosity in this case has been
greater than the caution. More than gazing on a story of beings taken
from our worst nightmares, the public wants to decipher the second
reading contained in the film. Especially in the scenes where hundreds
of desperate people leap over the wall of the Malecon — into the sea —
to escape a county where putrefaction is gaining ground.

Something of the automatism of the shock troops and of the mob prepared
to attack those who are different, is also exhibited by these frightful
creatures that the hero confronts and whom he can only overcome by
"destroying their brains." And Juan is a character of great irreverence,
someone who, according to his own words, has survived "Mariel, the war
in Angola, the Special Period and what came later." Such that, between
laughter and shrieks, the metaphor crumbles, it is more direct. And it
ends up tossing into the laps of the audience, perched on their seats,
the cynical but clear question: Won't you also be like corpses, a
faraway look in your restless eyes, like zombies with no future plans,
walking along La Rampa*.

*Translator's note: La Rampa is a long street running down to the
Malecon, and the sea, the location of much of what passes for what is
left of Havana's night life.

15 December 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment