QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM BERLIN
The 1960s were a decade of intense changes in the world, and the year of 1968 encapsulates both the hope and the deception of the young people seeking change under the guidance of Marx and Mao. In his latest documentary, the Braziloian filmmaker João Moreira Salles chose to depict three countries that were experiencing tremendous changes then: France, his homeland Brazil and the now defunct Czechoslovakia.
The films is a collage of footage and images from the 1960s with reflections and commentary made in Portuguese by the director himself. France saw the May 1968 student uprising, while Czechoslovakia experienced the Prague Spring (which attempted to lessen the stranglehold the Soviet Union had on the nation’s affairs) and Brazilians resisted the country’s military dictatorship.
Salles does a detailed semiotic reading of various events, and delivers his very own interpretation of the attempted revolution and its consequences. Three single deaths came to epitomise the three movements: Edson Luís in Brazil, Jan Palach in Czechoslovakia and Gilles Tautin in France. The three countries mourned and protested their respective tragedies. The director also blended footage from his mother’s visit to China around the same time, as well as pictures from his childhood in Brazil. Maybe he wanted to contrast the tautness of revolutionary straugglt against his family’s bourgeois lifestyle (his father was a banker, a government minister and an embassador, which is not revealed in the movie).
In the Intense Now is a lyrical piece with a somber tone. Salles’s voice is stern and laborious, and the second half of the movie feels like an eulogy to a bygone revolution, sepulchred by Charles de Gaulle, the Soviets and the dictatorship in Brazil. Extracts from various French films are used in the 127-minute-long film, and special attention is given to the Mourir à 30 Ans (Roumain Goupil, 1982) – a sad tribute to the 1968 revolutionaries who committed suicide at the age of just 30. It feels like Salles has become pessimistic about the prospect of the change. Or perhaps he just think the Marxist/Maoist revolution is now obsolete. One question remains moot: is the intense desire for transformation that that these three countries saw five decades ago replicable in the present?
In the Intense Now is showing this week in the Panorama section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, which DMovies is covering live right now – Click here for more information about the event. The film is dedicated to the Brazilian emblematic documentarist Eduardo Coutinho, who was murdered by his own son just three years ago, and with whom Salles had often collaborated. He explained before the film screening that the project was largely organic, and that no decisions being made before they began making the movie – in the same style of the late filmmaker Coutinho.