“What if we never went beyond the limit of the know. Have you never wished to see beyond the clouds and stars?...” Trying to get some light for the dark room, Fernando slowly stands up, walks outside the honeycomb-like window, stares faraway under the sunset, the dialogs in the movie Frankenstein is playing, as if Fernando is trying to listen them. “... if I could answer just one of these questions — what eternity is, for example — I wouldn’t care if they called me mad...”
The father seems realized something, as in that night, he wrote down his observation of the bees’s world: their movements are like “gear wheel of a clock”; swarm doing “endless varied and repetitive labors”, “relentless yet ineffectual toil”, “ the fevered comings and goings the call to sleep always ignored, undermining the next day’s works." But under the apparent busyness, under the apparent “teeming bridges and stairways of wax”, is a sense of endless meaninglessness and emptiness that makes an outside observer “looked away with an expression of indescribable sadness and horror.” We can Nind many similarities between the beehive world and real world, not only Spain. We live in a world of endless fashions, fads, the striving and climbing of economic and social ladder... Social inequalities... wars for power... The enormous commotions that fade quickly.
The director leaves many clues that this observation of beehive world is essentially a metaphor of the real world we live in: the honeycomb-like windows that reappear throughout the movie, the repeated speaking of this observation in the end of the movie; and a little detail: when Ana is looking her mother’s album of old pictures, under one picture it writes: “to my dear misanthrope.” Perhaps the receiver is disgust by the beehive-like human world.
So the thirst of searching something outside this mundane beehive becomes the major motive in this movie, and everyone has different approach: Father Fernando sneakily listens radio from foreign world; mother Teresa tries to write letters to her unreachable lover, in one letter she wrote “When I look around me, and see so much lose, and so much sadness, something tells me perhaps our ability to really feel life has vanished along all the rest...” In one hand, he has a similar feeling as the observer of the beehive ( the sadness and vanished and empty heart); on the other hand, she is like Ana, she pursues her lost memories and lover as the spirit Ana is pursuing. But we can see that most of them’ ability to really feel the life “has vanished.” This fact is powerfully expressed in the poem a school kid is reading:”
Now neither malice nor hatred, nor even the fear of change,
I only feel thirst,
a thirst for I know not what, River of life,
where have you gone?
air, I need air,
What do you see in the darkness,
that makes you silently tremble? I see not,
but only stare like a blind man, facing straight into the sun,
I shall fall,
where the fallen never rise.”
The teacher seems enthralled by this poem, and Ana is reading it concentratedly. This poem reveals the barren, exhausted inner hearts these adults have. A thirst for nutrients that can’t be satisNied. In the same classroom, Ana put the missing eye to Don Jose, symbolizes her ability of perceiving and inquiring that most of others lost.
From this perspective, we can see Ana’s search for the monster is an eager desire to go beyond the limit of known, or the bees’ world to the misty land of mystery of unknown, in which satisfying and fulNilling truth will reveal. She represents a hope and a continuing purs Ana’s big eyes represent this power: when she is looking at the movie Frankenstein, when she looks at the moon at night, and when she looks at the approaching train... Her condition could represent our ancestor’s condition in the universe. They tried to look out of the earth, like she looks into the abandoned shield, but all she can see is the vast emptiness that is like the empty space our ancestors observed above the sky; she dances around the well, closing eyes and counting numbers, as the rituals our ancestors did to invite the spirits to come; she throw a stone into the well, a splashing sound and the surrounding wind blowing is the only answer, like the outcomes they got many times throughout the history. Although many of us give up and suit in living a beehive world, Ana persists. She even shares some little similarity of Adam and Even in God’s garden: Ana can’t distinguish good and bad mushroom, and she probably ate the poisonous mushroom that her father forbids her to eat, and she met Frankestein after that.
In one day, a dramatic cross over between Ana’s world and real world happened, and she met a wounded soldier. I feel the scene in which they are interplaying is the sweetest scene in the movie. Yet it is soon been smashed by civil war. We see there clearly has a second theme, about a child’s perspective of the impact of war and dictatorship, and the healing process from it. As the doctor said to her mom:” Bit by bit, she’ll begin to forget...” Ana’s mom burned her letters which signiNies her “bit by bit” forgetting and healing process. Yet Ana does not, in the end of the movie, she still remember the words of communicating with spirit, “It’s me, Ana.” She stand between the beehive-like window, looks like a transcendental being.
Her sister, Isabel, is an very interesting character, too. She is very knowledgeable and imaginative among her peers. But she is repressed and need to obey rules imposed by society. In the classroom, she quietly told Ana:” His eyes.” and immediately be scolded by the teacher:” Be quiet, Isabel, answer when I ask you.” She is allowed to talk or light candle at night during bedtime. And when she played with Ana on bed, Milagros comes and yells at them:” stop being so boisterous.” So when she examines the cat, and asks;” what’s wrong with you?” she actually projects herself into the cat, so her real question is “what’s wrong with myself?” and she strangles the cat, as an outlet of her repressed self. Later she uses the blood of cat as lipstick showing her gradual realization of her role as a woman in this beehive-like society. As so, despite her rich imagination, she is restricted and more realistic than her sister. Thus she is a complex being and a transition between Ana and the adult world.
The movie has a rich depth of interpretations. The covered criticism of Franco, the trauma and healing process of the Spanish civil war, an childhood exploration of world and fantasy, or a pondering of our existence and ability to look outside. And there are much more nuances to explore and mull over. How does the movie achieve this rich subtleties?
The director uses an subconscious approach to unfold his movie. It is not for making plots, but more like a delve into our subconsciousness, to review, to soothe and to linger over it. I notice that in many scene shifting, the background voice shifts Nirst, and after a fairly long period of lingering of the old scene, the camera shifts. there are many examples: when Fernando is managing his beehives, his wife’s voice is speaking in the background, after quit long period of time, the camera shifts to the scene where his wife is writing the letter. other examples: Fernando stands outside the window, the dialog of the movie Frankenstein is playing as background voice. Then after a fairly long period of time, the camera shifts to the actual cinema; when the girls are talking on the bed, as they discuss the spirit and monster, foot step sounding appears, then the camera shifts to their father walking in his working room. These juxtapositions are very similar to the world of subconscious. There is a sea of free associations between different emotions and events that can’t be explained logically.
Another ways include making camera still linger in the scene after the characters has gone. For example, when Ana’s mother Ninished playing piano, she left, yet the camera didn’t move, leave a view of an empty room; or when Ana reenter the room where her sister “dead”, we see an empty room with only breezing wind comes in and out. When the kids are jumping over the bonNire, Ana stares at them doing the jump repeatedly, with the power of background music and the angle of the camera, it create a hypnosis effect. Ana still linger over the nearly distinguished Nire at night, until Milagros Ninds her and brings her back. The music clearly contribute to these psychological approach: the drum-like sound, the remote, repeated and gradually accented chords...
By delving into subconsciousness, the director provides audience a richer world to see, by decomposing the world we familiar with, we can grasp some meaningful things that is outside the Nixed reality we normally perceived, and to conciliate our constantly agitated yet tired souls.
Another technique the director uses: the settings: the isolated town, the barren and vast landscape, harsh and lone wind signify our condition in the universe. They drive us to ask: what is out there? Beyond this hollowness? The director also uses many substances to symbolize something. The little watch and the music it plays, the monster-like train... they all call our distanced, mysterious memories, that lingered in our mind yet we are seems blocked to get...
Just like the drifting melodies Teresa is playing, the whole movie is like a beautiful yet elusive music Nloating in the viewer’s heart. “What if we never went beyond the limit of the know. Have you never wished to see beyond the clouds and stars?...” We live in a busy world about increasing demands for expansion, exploitation and growth. But this movie inspires us to slow down, take some time and ask some questions outside the beehive like Ana does. Ana’s journey is the one we all experienced, but most of us lost in some stages of growing up. This movie gives us time to recall it, linger on it, mull over and proceed, for this journey will never be end.
写于2014/01/16，EENGLISH 106 PAPER 1 当时老师让我们坐教室看电影后写一篇essay出来）