FFF Day 10–I Dream In Another Language

by

Cultures, Religion and Best Friends Collide

Sometimes I have to be honest with myself and admit that I have prejudices. I suppose when you live in such an ethnocentric society as we have in the USA it’s hard to not let a little bit of American pride creep into your thoughts. For me, I tend to think that our country is the most advanced when it comes to filmmaking. Perhaps it’s true that we have a head start in the industry and along with the advantages of advanced technology and education we tend to create many more films, a percentage of which are bound to be high quality. But as I was watching I Dream In Another Language, I found myself feeling surprised that this Mexican film spoken in Spanish with English subtitles had such incredibly rich production values. That’s when I realized how prejudiced my thinking had become.

This is a wonderful, rich movie.

It revolves around an ancient [bogus] indigenous language called Zikril. According to the film’s mythology, there are only two people left in the entire world who speak this language. When a young linguist named Martin travels to the remote Mexican village to study this language, he discovers the two people who speak it; old men named Isauro and Evaristo, who used to be the best of friends but haven’t spoken to each other in over 50 years. Martin also discovers Fatima, the granddaughter of one of the men, and carries on a relationship with her despite the grandfather’s threats.

From this set up, the story dives deeper and deeper into the culture of the remote village and the religious, cultural and personal beliefs and clashes that shape these character’s destinies. Brothers Ernesto and Carlos Contrears, the director and writer, skillfully weave a tale of humanity and relationships as the movie goes from present day to flashbacks uncovering all the dynamics which have created the present impasse between the two main protagonist. As the film progresses, it seems impossible that it will come to a satisfactory conclusion. Yet the Brigadoon-like climax was both poignant and satisfying. The symbolism of a chair which one man carries everywhere is but one of those rich prop pieces which provides a perfect metaphor.

As I sat in the theatre, mesmerized by the brilliant cinematography, the great acting, the skillful directing, I realized just how jaded my world view had become. I did not expect a film from Mexico to be of such excellent quality. I’m not proud that I felt that way going into the movie. But I am thankful that I could approach the film with an open mind and an open heart and confront my own personal prejudice enough so I could truly appreciate this top notch film.

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