Love in desperate times2017/06/30
War and love have always been universal topics for artistic creation. Many painters, sculptors and writers have used these themes to get inspiration and to create authentic masterpieces. We can say the same about filmmakers. From the very beginning, movies have told us stories about passionate lovers and cruel armed conflicts. The Midwife is part of our selection this year and we have selected for you five other love stories set in wartime.
THE BUBBLE (2006)
In 2006, award-winning Israeli director Eytan Fox released The Bubble, a movie dealing with the conflict that has confronted Israel and Palestine since the beginning of last century. The film immerses us in the life of three young friends who live their lives freely in the city of Tel Aviv. In an atmosphere of tolerance and joy, they go to parties, hang out with other friends and enjoy all the possibilities that such an exciting city offers.
Everything is different when they have to serve in the reserve military forces, where they face the reality of the conflict with Palestine. After an incident at a checkpoint on the border while he serves as a soldier, Noam meets a young Palestinian man called Ashraf and falls in love. The relationship between the two boys is full of difficulties and obstacles, and the intolerance and lack of communication that separate Israel and Palestine threatens to separate the couple.
Before being a movie, Atonement was a hugely successful novel by the English author Ian McEwan. When Joe Wright decided to adapt the book into a movie he assumed the huge responsibility of living up to the expectations of the millions of readers who had fallen in love with this emotional story. After great reviews from film journalists, great commercial success and the numerous awards it received (including an Oscar for Best Original Score), we can say that the cinematic version of Atonement was at least as successful as its literary predecessor.
In this classic melodrama, we see how the lovers Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) deal with the consequences of a false accusation and the breaking out of World War II. With outstanding production design, a wonderful group of actors and the masterful hand of Wright, Atonement became an instant classic after its release.
SUNSET SONG (2015)
Based on a 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song was a very personal project for director Terence Davies that was turned down several times by British producers before becoming a reality. Set in rural Scotland in the early 20th century, the film tells the story of a young girl called Chris Guthrie who lives on her father’s farm. She is becoming a woman and a world full of possibilities opens up before her eyes. One of these possibilities is falling in love, and when it happens, Chris experiences joy and happiness next to Ewan; a local boy whose only ambition is to live a quiet life together with his family.
Davies has a great capacity to tell stories using the place as another character. In Sunset Song, the Scottish countryside shows its beauty but also how hostile and aggressive it can be. The love between Chris and Ewan faces a big challenge after the breaking out of World War I. Ewan has to join the military and after experiencing the cruelty of war he will never be the same again. When he returns to Chris, he is a completely different man and their love is put to the test. Sunset Song is a great film where love and war change the destinies of its characters forever.
François Ozon’s Frantz explores the consequences of World Word I on a young German girl called Anna who lost her fiancé (the Frantz in the film tittle) on the battlefield. She lives with the parents of the deceased in a small and quiet town. Her peaceful existence is interrupted with the arrival of a mysterious man who visits the tomb of Frantz every day. Intrigued by the presence of the man, she decides to approach him and ask him why he is visiting the cemetery that often. The man reveals that he is a former friend of Frantz whom he met during the time he spent in Paris studying French.
The mysterious man is called Adrien and he is French, what means that he is an enemy in the eyes of local people. The relation between Anna and Adrien is difficult, there are many complicated feelings involved and the mistrust of everyone around them doesn’t help. Ozon shows how terrible war wounds are, but also that hope is always behind the darkest life experiences.
LETTERS FROM WAR (2016)
Portuguese filmmaker Ivo Ferreira was part of the main competition at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016 with Letters from War, an adaptation of the epistolary novel of the same title by António Lobo Antunes. In the letters, a Portuguese soldier fighting in the colonial war against Angola tells his pregnant wife of his experiences on the battlefield and expresses to her how important the love he feels for her is to survive in such a difficult situation. During the film, the husband and wife read the letters that they receive from each other and there is no conventional dialogue.
The black and white pictures are magnificent, the sound and the music are incorporated with mastery and the combination of all these elements help the flow of the narration. Even if the film doesn’t fit the conventions of common storytelling, it keeps you completely fascinated by the stunning beauty of its images and the deeply moving words that the two lovers dedicate to each other.