We shifted the schedule of Film class at the College of Mass Communication from the second semester to the first, and today I had my first session with this newest batch.
As is my tradition for beginning the term, while people in the university are still making sense of the new schedules and curriculum, I show the class Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon (1956) and Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso (1980), to simulate a traditional film program (short + feature), to lay the groundwork for film appreciation which Lamorisse's short film does in spades, and to remind my students why they're in my class, and that is a love for the movies, and Tornatore's film is the perfect valentine to cinema.
For some reason though, today, I paid closer attention to this nth screening of Cinema Paradiso. Of course I teared up on cue -- but I found extra fascinating Alfredo's entreaty to the teenage Toto, right before we get to the third act. After briefly returning home to their Sicilian village during a break in military training in Rome, Toto takes his mentor on a walk, and Alfredo tells him: "We, each of us, have a star to follow. Get out of here, this land is cursed. Living here day by day, you think it’s the center of the world. You think nothing will ever change. Then you leave. A year, two years. When you come back, everything’s changed. The thread’s broken. What you came to find isn’t there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time, many years, before you can come back and find your people, the land where you were born. But now, no, it’s impossible."
When Toto eventually decides to leave for good, the scene shifts to him bidding farewell to his family and Alfredo at the train station, where the old man fiercely reminds him: "Don’t come back. Don’t think about us. Don’t look back. Don’t write. Don’t give in to nostalgia. Forget us all."
But the film wouldn't have had its emotional resonance if there had been no eventual coming back, and if it didn't dip into nostalgia. And it treats forgetfulness -- symbolized by the demolition of their small theater -- as a great human tragedy. How do we tread the fine balance between holding on to the past and surging forward to the future?
12:08 AM |
The Manila Metropolitan Theater in Resurrection
Here's a bit about the Manila Metropolitan Theater by Two Fold Media. The Met is an architectural masterpiece by architect Juan Arellano with sculptures by Italian sculptor Francesco Ricardo Monti, and it used to be a premiere venue for showcasing zarzuelas, operas, musicals, and films. The theater, abandoned after its heyday, was restored during the Marcos years, but again soon sank into neglect, and finally closed its doors to the public in 1996, under the specter of demolition. Clamor from heritage activists finally led to its current and ongoing restoration, and is expected to re-open in two to three years.
“Across the world today, our actions testify to our belief that we can go on like this forever, burning oil, poisoning the seas, killing off other species, pumping carbon into the air, ignoring the ominous silence of our coal mine canaries in favor of the unending robotic tweets of our new digital imaginarium.”
~ Roy Scranton, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization