Children: Red passion in black & white
by Carlo D'Ursi
This year is proving to be the year of extravagance at the 54th San Sebastian International Film Festival. Overwhelmed by the imposing presence of the recent Venice festival and upcoming Rome Film Festival, the programme is as inconsistent as the weather in this wonderful city.
In the Zabaltegui section of debut films, the hint of colour comes from Iceland with the film Children [+see also:
film profile] (Börn). Director Ragnar Brangason offers audiences a portrait of family, intended as the variegated nucleus in which love and hate live side by side, leaving no room for indifference.
Children tells the story of three very diverse families, in size and composition, but with a common element: the absence of a stable father figure. Three women – first among them, Karitas with her four kids – strive desperately to raise their children in desperate situations, in the vain attempt to maintain their love of life and their individuality as human beings.
Shot entirely in black and white, and endowed with that absence/excess of light typical to Northern Europe, Children conveys a clear and violent message: loving madly and hating from the depths of one’s soul are coinciding sentiments, whose only outcome is the destruction of life and where dialogue offers the only chance for salvation. And if we make the mistake of believing that the use of black and white represents an aesthetic choice to augment the coldness of film, Children makes clear from the first sequence that emotions do not need colour or special effects to be conveyed. It is enough to experience them.
Iceland’s candidate for the Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Children is a wholly national production (Vesturport/Artbox), an unusual and sincerely pleasing novelty, which invites reflection on the meaning of the definition “European cinema”. From Iceland to Turkey, passing through the richness of Mediterranean “contamination”, the culture of celluloid teaches us that this continent’s added value is its diversity – the product of love and hate – but that by communicating we will succeed in bringing up this great and eccentric family.
(Translated from Italian)
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