Víctor Erice

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Steven H
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Víctor Erice

#1 Post by Steven H » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:05 am

I tried to translate the director's introduction (that I found very interesting) in the booklet that comes in the, wonderful, DVD of this film. Here you go:

"About The Film.

Introduction.

The idea that sustains this film is very simple. It consists, mainly, of the capture of a real event: the painting and drawing of a tree.

With regard to this fact, there are some most elementary questions, and the immediate way they can be presented are the following: who is the artist, what does he paint, and how is it made? (this is actually written "qui�n es el artista, qu� es lo que pinta y c�mo lo hace" if you can think of a more appropriate translation, please respond)

The movie offers quick reply to these demands: the artist is called Antonio Lopez and he paints - with a style that, based on the accuracy, can be called realist - a Quince tree that is planted in his garden.

But he does it, and this is a fundamental detail, before a movie team, with a camera and a tape recorder, that tries to collect the images and the sounds of this event.

It is as if, in this case, the painting and the film enter a relationship.

A relationship that supposes the explicit renunciation to any prior form of fabulacion or dramaturgy, even which would be elaborated from the most significant data of a biography. But that, besides, likewise dispenses with the example, already traditional, that constitutes the so called documentary of art; that is to say, those movies that utilize the pictorial work for the aim of a synthesis cinematograf�ca.

A sort of elaborate diary from the direct collecting of the facts (all the people that appear in the images are represented as they are, and what they say belongs), The Quince Tree Sun is about, mostly, seeking a relation less obvious between the painting and the film, observe both the real thing and the instrument of capture; that is to say, knowing different forms of a possible truth.

All through this century, the painters and the cineastes have made careless obsrvations, perhaps because they have had, and they continue having, much of the same common - among others, capturing the light -, but, above all, because their work obeys, indicated by Andre Bazin, the same mythical impulse: the original need of surpassing their time by means of the existence of the form; the desire, totally psychological, of replacing the exterior world with it�s double.

First photography, then film, explains some of the more substantial aspects of the evolution in modern painting. With their appearance, these two inventions aroused a profound mutation of the rules of the image, of it�s production and consumption, that has extended to our current time.

Expanding extraordinarily on the horizon of that mutation, television and video have made changes precipitating the crisis of the movies, aware of it�s own expiration.

Perhaps for all this, the painting and the film simultaneously travel for more than an ordinary territory, seeming to share the same frustrations and hopes.

Because in a present moment, in which the audiovisual inflation has arrived at unimaginable extremes, the question this imposes, more than ever, is the following one: how to make visible - to paint, to film - an image."

I look forward to any discussion of this film. I plan on rewatching it sometime this week myself...

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#2 Post by godardslave » Fri Feb 18, 2005 3:06 am

cool work on the translation...

and i think this may have been covered before, so forgive me, but where is the easiest place to buy this DVD online?

thanks

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#3 Post by Subbuteo » Fri Feb 18, 2005 3:11 am


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Steven H
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#4 Post by Steven H » Fri Feb 18, 2005 3:12 am

Xploited has a good price on it (much better than I could find it on eBay). This DVD is worth the price and more.

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#5 Post by Gary Tooze » Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:27 pm

Gonzalo Blasco reviewed the DVD quite thoroughly here, and you can buy from Fnac...

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Steven H
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#6 Post by Steven H » Sat Feb 19, 2005 12:37 am

You could buy at FNAC, sure... but it costs almost twice as much. Buy at xploitedcinema and spend the difference saved on Spirit of the Beehive (if you already own it, buy a copy for a loved one).

But back to the movie. I've been thinking about what the film exposes about art. It reminds me of a drawing of a boot I saw in a book one time that only said "this is not a boot" on it, because it's not a boot, it's a drawing of a boot. It's consistently self-aware of it's own self expression, and in a way reaches a postmodern transcendent state. It strangely reminded me of Brakhage's The Act of Seeing Through One's Own Eyes, or maybe Tarkovsky's Solaris... kind of the picking apart of a person to examine a larger truth.

But just like the drawing of the boot, which is so lifelike, the film seems to take place in "real time" (though I'm aware of the production history, filmed over two months and edited for a year or so) a magic trick or an illusion which makes the effect of this study all the more powerful. We're cooked inside our shells, seeing through Erice's eyes the act of creation, and simultaneously reminded that this is all a fiction (presented in "documentary" fashion).

The most obvious metaphor of the film is that Lopez is Erice's tree, he wants to capture the light (or the life) of this artist, who seems as natural and real as his surrounding. I haven't gotten around to reading the interview in the booklet yet, but I wonder what religion Erice follows. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a buddhist (maybe for trying to admire creation for what it is).

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#7 Post by bunuelian » Sat Feb 19, 2005 1:37 am

Sounds fascinating. Does anyone know if the authoring error has been fixed? I'm guessing there's only be one pressing of this set . . .

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#8 Post by Steven H » Sat Feb 19, 2005 1:44 pm

No clue as to whether it's been fixed. I didn't notice any artifacts on my flatscreen 32", just some scratches/dirt and high granularity (except during the betacam segments, of course... which have to be considered apart). As chapter 18 came there was a slight "freezing" which lasted about half a second (I didn't notice the image freeze, but the sound dropped out, it seemed like a normal layer change, but I'm not very technically inclined). With extras, optional english subtitles, and an immense booklet (in spanish) it's a great DVD. I couldn't even go back and check the "freeze" that was reported without being hypnotized into watching some of the film.

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#9 Post by TedW » Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:19 pm

Steven H wrote:The most obvious metaphor of the film is that Lopez is Erice's tree, he wants to capture the light (or the life) of this artist, who seems as natural and real as his surrounding.
For me the most obvious metaphor of the film is that the quince tree represents or stands in for the transience of life. The movie is less about a painter trying to paint a quince tree (though those are the specifics) than it is about a man trying to capture or experience something that is constantly moving and in the slow but sure process of dying. Weather is against him, the shifting of the day's light... nature itself. I haven't seen the film in some time, but doesn't Lopez "die" at the end, when he lays down after being defeated? Everything in the movie gives out on him or subverts his intentions, yet his doomed mission is periodically enlightened by the visitations of old friends and colleagues who comfort and cajole him. I thought the movie to be a masterpiece. If anything is about as huge an idea as "the nature of the human condition," this one is it.
Last edited by TedW on Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#10 Post by Steven H » Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:37 pm

I agree, and I think you put it much better than I could. Rereading what I've said about this film makes me think it defies essay writing altogether, and takes advantage of the medium like little else in narrative cinema. Of course, I did talk my girlfriend's poor ears off all day about the "documentary" aspect of it. Bless her for listening (I think I've reached my pontification limit on this board for the month).

oh, and I rewatched it keeping my eye out for authoring errors and there are definitely some digital artifacts, jagged straight lines in a few spots, but I had to really pay attention to see these

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#11 Post by rwaits » Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:17 pm

OK--I asked this one about a year ago--I'll ask again. Why isn't this film available in Region 1, and are there any plans for a Region 1 release any time soon?

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#12 Post by Ovader » Sun May 20, 2007 2:36 am

Cinematheque Ontario will have LIFELINES: THE FILMS OF VICTOR ERICE this July. Victor Erice will appear in person at some of the screenings in this retrospective. Visit the homepage for further information when his schedule is confirmed.

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#13 Post by Tommaso » Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:02 am

I finally watched the Spanish disc yesterday. To get away with the bad things first: the transfer is a clear disappointment for a 1992 film. No problem with the occasional debris, but the whole look of the film is slightly murky and unsharp, I noticed occasional compression artefacts and interlacing flicker, even some wobble in the first real, and the heavy grain looks rather unnaturally rendered, too. No freezing anywhere on the first disc, but on the second disc my copy froze at around 9.50 in the 'Apuntas' section (probably an individual fault of my disc, as nobody else has mentioned it, but worth pointing out; if this had happened in the film itself, I'd gone nuts). All in all, with any other film I wouldn't call this a bad disc (especially as the supplements are simply mindblowing), but with THIS film anything below the best simply isn't enough.

Nevertheless, I must say that despite these deficiencies I'm really happy to have bought the disc. There are many films that tend to have a hypnotic effect on me, but "Membrillo" while sharing this quality has something special to it. It's not so much drawing you in (though it does that too), but in a curious way 'clears your mind' as if inducing a state of meditation and epiphany.

I would also say that the quince tree stands for the transience of life, but it also stands for rebirth (the film ends in spring, with the tree blossoming again although we see the rotting fruit of the last year on the ground).
TedW wrote:. I haven't seen the film in some time, but doesn't Lopez "die" at the end, when he lays down after being defeated? Everything in the movie gives out on him or subverts his intentions, yet his doomed mission is periodically enlightened by the visitations of old friends and colleagues who comfort and cajole him. I thought the movie to be a masterpiece. If anything is about as huge an idea as "the nature of the human condition," this one is it.
I'd rather say he 'rests' at the end, and he isn't defeated, but quietly accepts the limitations nature puts on art, limitations that he is aware of throughout the film and which he quietly accepts. That doesn't stop him from working against them (see the careful way in which he outlines his canvas and the meticulous lines he paints on the quince to see how much it drops from day to day by getting heavier). I never had the impression that his friends had to comfort him; in a way, this is a very joyful and life-embracing film with images whose beauty speak for themselves, in a completely unobtrusive way.

Painting the tree of course is also a metaphor for making a film here, as Erice seems to indicate in the text translated above; looking for the right light and framing, but also considering the unaware spectators. The Polish workers' reactions to eating the quince might be seen as a reflection of how a viewer reacts to the unusual ways of the film (skeptical, then perhaps asking what all the fuss is about).

Whether this is indeed the best film of the 90s, as a survey of opinions from various cinematheques detailed in the booklet indicates, I wouldn't dare to say. But it's a real eye-opener if you're interested in the creation of art or its relation to nature, and its images will stay with you for quite a long time I suppose. That no other company has put it out seems a crime, but is also understandable. Even for Criterion or MoC this would probably have very little appeal because it is so different (and thus uncommercial) from almost anything else you usually see. The only company into whose catalogue it would reasonably fit is the BFI perhaps. But as long as there's no other edition, this Spanish disc is a must have despite its shortcomings.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#14 Post by John Cope » Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:56 am

Just wanted to alert anyone who is interested to the fact that an excellent quality English subbed version of El Sur just got posted on YouTube.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#15 Post by rwaits » Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:32 pm

Looks good - is this ever getting a release?

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#16 Post by razumovsky » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:35 am

Victor Erice introduced a screening of Andre Malraux's Spanish Civil War Sierra de Teruel/Espoir at the BFI last week. After the film, two new Erice short films were shown, which apparently form part of a projected ten part film called Memories and Dreams. Unfortunately, I had to leave to catch my train so missed these films, but still, great to know that he's up to something, isn't it. Not holding my breath for the completed version, though. I'd be interested to hear from anybody who did see the films.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#17 Post by puxzkkx » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:44 am

I adore "The Spirit of the Beehive" - such a potent illumination of our yearning to understand our own mortality. I would kill to get ahold of "The South" and "Dream of Light"

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#18 Post by zedz » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:13 pm

puxzkkx wrote:I adore "The Spirit of the Beehive" - such a potent illumination of our yearning to understand our own mortality. I would kill to get ahold of "The South" and "Dream of Light"
You don't need to kill to get Dream of Light, but you might have to rob a bank.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#19 Post by Murdoch » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:23 pm

It's available new on Amazon marketplace for two dollars less, but I think I'll hold out for the never-going-to-happen Criterion release.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#20 Post by swo17 » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:26 pm

My local library happened to have an old VHS copy of it. You might try checking yours, or failing that, the Interlibrary Loan.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#21 Post by markhax » Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:25 pm

puxzkkx wrote:I adore "The Spirit of the Beehive" - such a potent illumination of our yearning to understand our own mortality. I would kill to get ahold of "The South" and "Dream of Light"
No need to kill: "The South" has been available in good quality on Youtube for the past month. http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p ... 2C82134417" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#22 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:12 pm

You can always download El Sur as well. It's excellent quality with subtitles.

Download VLC Media player to watch it! It allows you to enable or disable subtitles when you like.

By the way, this is a great site to get some stuff unavailable on DVD with English subtitles! They will usually have excellent fan translations. I've gotten an array of hard to find Naruse, Hausu, and some rare samurai films.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#23 Post by zedz » Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:15 pm

I should add that when I posted that link to the Quince Tree Sun DVD, I was looked for it first on Spanish fnac, since I knew it used to be an exclusive for them, but they no longer listed it. This likely means that it's now out of print, so if you have ever wanted it (it's a terrific 2-disc package) your time may be running out.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#24 Post by puxzkkx » Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:59 am

swo17 wrote:My local library happened to have an old VHS copy of it. You might try checking yours, or failing that, the Interlibrary Loan.
The most obscure film I could find after searching my local library and 2 video stores in my boondock hometown was An Autumn Afternoon - I think it was actually the oldest foreign I saw as well! :shock:
Wanganui sucks as far as filmwatching goes. I hated America but I'd move back there just to take advantage of Netflix.

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Re: Vi­ctor Erice

#25 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:42 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:You can always download El Sur as well. It's excellent quality with subtitles.

Download VLC Media player to watch it! It allows you to enable or disable subtitles when you like.
That's a great option! Just burn a DVDr after that (make sure the subtitles are on it, too) and voila: instant copy. No need of a crappy VHS copy either.

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