THE BICYCLE THIEF, TIMECRIMES, INCENDIES: FILMS BY DE SICA, VIGALONDO & VILLENEUVE

December 31, 2012 Film Reviews

Commenting on modern film, the Russian writer and director Andrei Tarkovsky observed that ‘time becomes the basis of bases in cinema, like sound in music, like colour in painting’.

What better way to ring in the new year than with three films that offer different variations on time: Vittoria De Sica’s Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) (1948), Nacho Vigalondo’s Cronocrimenes (Timecrimes) (2007) and Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies (2010).

The scarcity of employment, the paucity of existence and the bitter timing of misfortune in post-war Italy are powerfully rendered in De Sica’s acclaimed and widely celebrated  Ladri di Biciclette. A father and his young son set off in pursuit of their prized but pilfered bicycle, an object and mode of transport that is at once instrumental for their welfare and interwoven with the fabric of their social milieu and family dynamic.

The perplexities and paradoxes of time travel play out with sinister, voyeuristic and violent intensity in Cronocrimenes, a film that compels a second and third viewing with its mind-bending exploration of an ordinary man’s encounter with a scientist and his time machine…and his ensuing and bloody confrontations with multiple selves – from the past, present and the future.

A Will and Testament is more than a legal declaration of a person’s wishes concerning the disposition of their assets and their property after death. It is also a legacy of one’s history and a promise for the future. In Denis Villeneuve’s incredible Incendies, twins Simon and Jeanne Marwan embark on a dangerous, taxing and emotionally shattering journey into the war-ravaged landscapes of Palestine (and their own volatile and tragic genealogy) upon receiving the will of their deceased mother.

Three labyrinthine journeys and compelling explorations of poverty and hardship, calamities and temporalities, history and progeny. What are we, if not, subjects of inexplicable times and fractured spaces, adrift and shuffling between memories, potentialities and dreams?