Trueba and Marshal mix animation and ‘bossa-nova’ in a magical liturgy of recognition and mourning

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When John Cage confronted the audience with the three silent movements of his famous piece 4′ 33” It was not clear if what he was trying to do was make the silence itself audible or if the involuntary noises that were necessarily heard in those four and a half long minutes were really the sound material of the piece. Be that as it may, the truth remains that what is heard is, in one way or another, the other, what is not. They shot the pianistthe new four-handed animation work from the creators of Chico and Rita, He lives in that same, strange and magical contradiction. It is documentary and, in reality, everything you see is nothing more than the fantasy and miracle of animation; It is a cruel and violent political drama about the disappearance of a musician in the fascist heat of the Argentine dictatorship and what matters is the simple and direct genius of bossa nova (or samba-jazz); It is celebration and it is mourning; He is Trueba and he is Mariscal. Let’s say that what is truly important, what is, is to a large extent the other, what is not. Without a doubt, prodigious.

Everything came about, he says Fernando Trueba, maybe too long ago. For more than 15 years the history of the pianist Francisco Tenório Junior has accompanied the director in a more than just obsessive way. First, as a star anecdote, however tragic and incomprehensible, at every after-dinner meal with friends. Then, as a disembodied idea for an urgent film. Later, as a project postponed a thousand times due to financing issues. And finally, as a simple necessity. And so on until it arrives at the San Sebastián Festival on Saturday, converted into a beautiful and tragic film for what it is and, as has already been said, also for what it refuses to be in its nature of unclassifiable beauty. It’s like that.

To situate ourselves, They shot the pianist tells the life, work and death of an artist who was for more than a moment, back in the 60s and 70s, one of the most prominent figures on the Brazilian music scene. The narrative advances in the form of an enigma determined to find the hidden key and the ghost of a disappearance. In 1976, while on tour in Buenos Aires, one night when, unaware of the imminent danger, he went out to buy “a sandwich and an aspirin,” Tenório Júnior was never heard from again. And it is there, in the mystery and the injustice of that mystery, where the film takes advantage to surprise, hurt and, despite everything, marvel.

During the almost two hours that the film lasts, the viewer is placed face to face with a kind of irresolvable contradiction. The 39 interviewed that appear and that, according to the director, are nothing more than a small sample of the hundreds of testimonies collected that give an account of their memories in the company of the absent person. What we see is, in effect, a documentary. However, everything is structured by a journalist-researcher who is the protagonist of a fiction with soul and thriller aspect. But without losing sight of the fact that what appears on the screen is nothing more than a vibrant, carnal drawing, at times almost abstract and very Mariscal.

And in this way, between fiction and reality, between representation and dream, what matters is nothing more than memory, the memory of music by definition unforgettable, even if we knew nothing about it until the very moment of listening to it. for the first time. It is in this elusive, unclassifiable and always on the run artifice where it lives and becomes great. They shot the pianist. If we also remember, something similar was already the support and sense of Boy and Rita, the 2010 film that brought Trueba and Mariscal together for the first time and that, in a similar way, tried to encapsulate in the parameters of the most classic cinema of the 50s the patterns and modes of the most modern cartoon. Also there, the contradiction was the soul and meaning.

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