La Morte Rouge
Posted by martinteller on May 26, 2012
“La Morte Rouge” is the name of a fictional Quebec town in The Scarlet Claw, one of the grislier Sherlock Holmes movies, and the first film that Victor Erice can recall seeing. In what might be called a “tone poem” or a “visual essay,” Erice explores his memories of the film and the history surrounding it. He starts with the theater, a grand structure that was formerly a casino until gambling was outlawed. He talks about the state of the nation, a country still reeling from both a civil war and World War II, and how the horrors of reality numbed the audience to the horrors onscreen. Most of all, he talks about “Potts,” the postman murderer of the film, played by Gerald Hamer. For a long time afterwards, young Victor lived in fear of mailmen, a fear that was magnified by the taunts of a mischievous older sister. Erice’s fascination with the monstrous character recalls The Spirit of the Beehive, where Frankenstein haunts little Ana Torrent.
It’s a gorgeous, intriguing short, weaving together memories and history and thoughtful observations about the power of cinema, the collective experience, the childhood terrors and traumas and imaginations. Told mostly in still photos and eloquent tableaus, black and white except for the bookends, with lovely music by Arvo Pärt. It makes me wish once again that there was more Erice to discover, only a handful of shorts remain. Perhaps we may get another feature out of him yet. Rating: Very Good