The high walls of lack of communication

A story about pain and human sacrifice.

The challenge and provocation left by the film by Fernando Pérez, La pared de las palabras, are so strong that when it concludes we continue trapped in the complex reading of his proposal and all the narration echoes in our conscience so that we continue seeking the meanings, the interpretations, the way out of the labyrinth.

But there is no way out, there are no keys – because there are no doors -, only personal readings, personal interpretations, personal answers, from experience and each one’s capacity: life experiences and cultural experiences.

The filmmaker has built his movie on the wall of lack of communication and its consequences among human beings, first of all pain; but not all of them feel it the same way, as many do not understand the sacrifice.

While La pared de las palabras is written based on those concepts, it is a story from which we hear, in the background, the works of the Maestros who have spoken to us about pain and sacrifice, that is, a diversity that links religion, philosophy, psychology, art and literature.

Sacrifice has ix meanings in the Dictionary of the Royal Academy; according to the fifth, it is “an act of selflessness inspired by the vehemence of affection.” And that description, does it not introduce certain suspicion about the act? Because the vehement “has an impetuous force,” according to the aforementioned dictionary, but also “is said of the person who acts rashly, letting themselves be carried away by impulse” (Ibid).

Elena, the protagonist of La pared…, suffers because of her son Luis’ illness and he suffers because of the impossibility of communicating; Elena does not find understanding in her mother or in her other son over the sacrifice she makes for Luis, but by any chance does she have an option? By any chance can she leave him in the care of a hospital that lacks the conditions to care for and protect those patients?

The representation of Elena’s drama reproduces a local reality which no one wants to mention: the difficult situation of the families who face similar circumstances, made more difficult because of hospital insufficiencies. Elena’s drama is that of the caregivers and only of those who have suffered it can understand it. Readings are useless here, as well as Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Bergman, only those who have lived that experience know what such a state of neglect means.

When the camera leaves the sombre environment of the hospital it shows us a city falling to pieces, an avenue of buildings in ruin, according to the crudeness of the matter. But in both places we find lonely persons – the driver, the nurse -, capable of risking even their job post, capable of sacrifice, actions compared to that of the passenger that prevents Elena from taking a taxi, or the atrocious behaviour of those in charge of collecting the garbage.

A surrealist scene takes place precisely around the garbage containers at the entrance to the hospital when, in the middle of a downpour, the patients open the gates and instead of fleeing, establishing chaos, they all proceed to collect the garbage and organise the space, making signs that perhaps only they can understand.

The last scene of the film again connects with that symbolic atmosphere: the painting donated by Luis’ brother is shown for the first time to the audience, who at the same time receives its images, the vision of the patients enraptured by the work and Luis’ voice going through all the walls, at last communicating from a spiritual level where pain does not exist. The ideas that have been latent in the film then converge, reconcile, through art – the painting.

La pared de las palabras has the ability to move and shock us with an intense human universal drama, but rooted in national reality. Its proposal is of a lacerating, disturbing, uncomfortable, but necessary, therapeutic beauty, as is the sea with fishhooks by Joan Capote, the painting that the patients, the “insane,” have understood so well.

In a fragment of his writing, Franz Kafka said that art flaps its wings around truth, but with the decided aim of not getting burned. That its ability consists in finding in the dark void the ray of light that can be fully captured, in a place where it previously has not been able to be seen.

The expression of La pared… is coherent with its thematic universe: the contained acting by Isabel Santos, the absence of music, showing the pain, the wounds – of the protagonist, of her family, of the patients, of the city.

As we noted in the beginning, the force of this work leaves us thinking: about the enigmas of the mind, about the Elenas who suffer and make sacrifices in silence, who carry their pain inside them, while we continue hearing the clamouring voices of the epilogue. (2014)

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