Greed and hedonism in Cine Chat
Shakespeare gets a contemporary, capitalist face in Vinícius Coimbra’s The Moving Forest (A floresta que se move). The film, based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, tells the story of Elias (Gabriel Braga Nunes),a successful executive at a large private bank in Brazil, who meets a mysterious embroiderer who says she can see the future. She tells him that he will become vice president of the bank that same day, and soon after that he will become president. Elias tells his wife, Clara, who, intrigued by the predictions, suggests that he invite the president of the bank round for dinner. The wheel of fortune turns and the couple commit a series of murders, leaving a trail of blood on their path to power and turning them into perpetrators and victims of their own destiny.
The Cine Chat session opened with professor of cinema Sergio Motta praising the elegance with which this film successfully fuses several genres. Coimbra explained the importance of breaking down these divides between art and popular culture, by making works that are aesthetically spectacular, as well as attractive and interesting for a wide public. “Listening to what audiences want is a must. I didn’t want to make a film just for cinephiles, nor for the juries of international festivals.” He also told those assembled that when it came down to writing the script, he realised he needed to respect Shakespeare’s original words, without detracting from the essence of the work by bringing it up-to-date in a modern setting. “Shakespeare’s text served as a foundation for everyone involved: the artistic director, the cinematographer, the sound technicians. We all gleaned valuable inspiration from the play. And I could see that it was important to leave the universal values of the playwright as a structural basis for the work, letting the actors themselves speak his words.”
Actress Ana Paul Arósio commented that the impeccable script by Coimbra allowed her to interpret the role to the best of her potential. In response to questions about why she was drawn to the role, Arósio exclaimed: “I accepted because the part was beautifully written and because it was a chance to work with Vinícius. This role made me fall in love with cinema all over again.”
Actors Gabriel Braga Nunes, Ângelo Antônio, Rui Ricardo Diaz and Fernando Alves Pinto, also present, agreed with Arósio, the latter stating: “It’s extremely difficult to adapt Shakespeare, and often these attempts don’t work out. I grew up studying Macbeth, and when I read this film’s script I thought it was marvellous. It’s great to have an opportunity to get a difficult text and give it life.”
Nelson Xavier, who played the film’s protagonist added, to the audience’s amusement: “And I want to extend my thanks to Vinícius because it’s the first time he’s asked me to play a rich person!”
Things were a little more serious on Saturday, at the Q&A session for The Cult (A seita), a film that transports its audiences to a dystopian, futuristic Recife of 2040 and protagonises the iconic figure of the “dandy”.
Mediator, Mariana Baltar, professor of Cinema and Audiovisual arts at the UFF, began the conversation by highlighting the crucial role of the figure of the “dandy”, the young, refined intellectual who chooses to live his life in a superficial, meaningless way, rejecting society’s necessity to be constantly productive, and instead dedicating his life to hedonism. This figure, she pressed, is an answer to the contemporary pressures acting today on mankind, especially in moments of worldwide crises. Baltar went on to underline the film’s juxtaposing of excess (visual spectacle, art, illumination) and sobriety (fixed plans, silence, stillness), as well as a flirtation with classical tropes of science fiction.
Director, André Antônio, reiterated that the “dandy” is necessary in the film for his frivolity and fickleness. He added that during his childhood he lived in a dilapidated part of Recife. This fascination with the mysteries of ruins inspired a return to this setting in his creation of a nostalgic future. Antônio also revealed that the whole mise-en-scène was designed to reflect the distance and cynicism of a character that is unable to feel neither love nor passion. “I wanted to create a coldness in my filming,” he concluded. He reflected on the use of repeated images in order to create this cyclical vision of the future as a mere repetition of the past.
Mariana Baltar finished the session by quoting Baudelaire: “The reader should not be scandalised by the possibility of seriousness disguised as frivolity, and should remember that in all madness is greatness, in all excess, strength.”
Adapted by Gill Harris from texts by Juliana Shimada and Clara Ferrer.
Photos: Lariza Lima and Natália Alvim