Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one of the foremost English poets of all time, recognized, along with other classmates, to be one of the founders of English Romanticism. Born in the late third of the 18th century, his poems inspired many artistic manifestations, such as that of the metal band Iron Maiden, who adapted the poem “ A Balada do Velho Marinheiro ” in their 1984 album Powerslave. 2021 , “ Christabel ” hits theaters, a Brazilian film loosely based on the English writer’s eponymous poem.
“Christabel” takes place in the heart of the Brazilian savannah. Seu Leonel (Julio Adrião) is a poor rural worker who lives with his daughter, Christabel (Milla Fernandez), an orphan whose daily household chores are the only occupation of her life. After the fiancé (Alexandre Rodrigues, the Buscapé of the “City of God”) leaves to pick up the cattle, the young woman feels extremely alone at home. Until the day when, one night, the appearance of a mysterious woman piques the curiosity of the young girl, who takes her home to take care of her. But the presence of the enigmatic Geraldine (Lorena Castanheira) will shake up the pre-established relationships between father and daughter.
In the case of a literary adaptation of a poem (very long, by the way), the one hour and forty hour film finds good solutions to both be able to tell the story and adapt it to the cinematographic format. Alex Levy-Heller mirrors 18th century English Gothic romanticism to contemporary Brazilian reality. If the viewer does not know the source of the inspiration, he will not be suspicious of its origin either. The main alternative found appears in the figure of a sort of troubadour in the middle of the path, who, with his accordion, sings the verses adapted to the Brazilian language and reality, while talking to Seu Leonel about Geraldine’s origin. .
The production makes good use of the location in the cerrado, in order to make room for the beautiful photography orchestrated by Vinicius Berger. Not only the breathtaking landscapes, recorded in the wee hours of the morning, but also the framing of the scenes, which always seeks to place the camera in unusual places, thus making the viewer a spy on what is happening inside from the family home. The cinematographer tells her own narrative line, choosing to show when she hears it, or simply suggesting, giving free rein to the viewer’s imagination, bringing new ways of saying things without necessarily showing them.
The story is carried by the duo Milla Fernandez and Lorena Castanheira, which works well with the game of vampiric seduction X temptation without being vulgar or cartoonish. Julio Adrião, however, believes that he often misses the entry for his speeches, showing some insecurity on paper. Considering the character’s importance to the plot, it could have been worked out better.
“Christabel” is a beautiful art film, with a very slow pace and a very specific niche proposition. Currently showing in Brazilian cinemas, it should attract intellectual audiences through its poetic language and metaphorical narrative.
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