Monday, June 22, 2009

review: arrebato (rapture)

Before I dropped out of college for the last time my Independent Study thesis was titled "Metadigetic Narrative in the works of Somadeva, Roussel and Potocki", so obviously I've got a thing for stories-within-stories, and it's not news that I have an interest in distorting the perception of time through media, so it's hard to think of a film better suited to my tastes than the Spanish film Arrebato (Rapture).

Arrebato is a film with a recursive framed structure and focuses on the kinds of vampiric desires such stories can gratify. The film begins with a director suspiciously similar to Ivan Zulueta, the film's actual director, working on a doomed horror film when he's not sniffing coke and fighting with his on-again off-again girlfriend. One day a package arrives containing a film and an audio cassette documenting the recent experiments his young protege has undertaken in using children's toys, Brakhage-style stop-motion animation and heroin in order to step outside of everyday time, going into raptures he can't remember after they're done. The film cuts back between the present (the director watching the film) and the past, when the director and the young man first met and how they became friends, the increased technique of the young man strengthening his raptures, until he begins filming himself while he sleeps, discovering on the developed film a red spot during which he enters some hallucinatory state. Finally the director has to go find the young man, and he discovers what became of him: to say any more would blow the ending. The best comparison I can make is to a film like The House With Laughing Windows, but there's pretty strong parallels to Cronenberg's later Videodrome, and the fluctuation 16mm, 8mm and videotape (and general nightmarish quality) isn't too far from Lynch, plus the whole technology-as-portal-to-the-supernatural seems to mirror late 90s/early 'OOs Japanese horror films like Ringu, Suicide Club or One Missed Call. It's important to keep in mind this was released in '79, and there's definitely a South American flavor of arthouse punk going on here, which makes it incredibly frustrating there isn't a proper DVD release of this. You can pick up a blurry VCD at 5 Minutes To Live, but there's a torrent floating around that's better quality and includes (handmade and not precise but better than nothing) subtitles. I'm definitely on the lookout for Zulueta's other films, and this one is definitely one to catch if you can.

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