Week 4/2024

“Cities, like dreams, are built from desires and fears, although the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules absurd, their perspectives deceptive, and everything hides something else,” writes Italo Calvino in Invisible Cities (1972). How to write a line of history in the enmeshment of everyday desires and fears? Once one pulls a thread, the history of an entire country might emerge. 

Bernardo Bertolucci made a big gesture when he created Novecento (1976), an epic starting from 1900 and leading to the Second World War. Two boys are born in Italy at the same time: one as landowner, the other as a peasant.  As their friendship evolves, they take part in the class struggle. Film critic Joël Magny noted that “1900 can be read as a hymn to the people by a bourgeois, the adventure of a bourgeois who projects himself into the role of the proletariat by the means of a film”.

Kleber Mendonça Filho’s debut film, Neighboring Sounds (2012), takes place in the city where he was born, Recife. He stated in an interview that “99 percent of Brazilian filmmakers are middle class or upper middle class or bourgeois, as I am, yet most of the time they’re making films about people they don’t know that much about and subjects they haven’t mastered.” Focussing on one apartment building, he tells a story of changes in Brazilian society and scrutinizes the middle class, whose “feet never touch the ground.”

The last film of the week is Fearless (1993) by Peter Weir, who also brought us The Truman Show. An architect survives a plane crash, then walks through the streets of his hometown devoid of fear. But without fear, he will discover, there is no desire.

This Week