Saturday, November 26, 2011

Anima Sola Scene Autopsy

Latin Horror has a series called "Scene Autopsy," where they challenge creative people who work in film to talk about the art of film making. The intent is to get film makers to stop thinking in terms of generating buzz for a current project and short term goals to get as many people to "like" the film as possible, and to start thinking of movie making as an art form.

According to Latin Horror, there is far too much emphasis on short-term gimmicks and fake creative discrimination- in other words, current social media and TV trailers for movies have removed us from the heart and soul of movies, and their intended purpose. Movies were not originally created in order for a production company to make a quick buck, but to entertain and move the audience.

Many current films have suffered from the fate of being shoveled out far too soon and have choked under what I can only describe as the mentality of capitalism. Whether is actually is a corporate miasma, or just the false assumptions that every movie needs to be as fast paced as possible (fast burn, instead of slow burn); many a good movie has been sucked down to drown in the whirlpool of mediocrity and ends up being a half-hearted attempt at telling a story that had the potential to be so much more than what it ends up being.

Horror films serve as a catharsis for the collective soul of the world. People are drawn to them to be scared,  disgusted, or even delighted- depending on the tale the movie has to tell. These movies allow people to experience such intense emotions without having to actually be physically placed into mortal danger. Horror movies tell us that being scared is OK, it's safe to feel that way because after all, it's only a movie.

With many horror films catering to a teenage audience (Sorry, but PG-13 films generally tend to be terrible) because it is believed by many that teenage girls spend the most money and drive the economy (not sure if this is true or not. But the mentality in Hollywood remains) we are collectively robbed of great story telling, which has been replaced by rushed CG monsters and emotionless pieces played by sub-par actors that are a decade too old to be considered teenagers any more.

With that being said, I decided to take up Latin Horror's challenge, which can be found here and discuss a scene from "Anima Sola." It is an unfinished movie that was supposed to be the first project produced by Latin Horror. The challenge is to watch the scene, compare it with the script, and discuss how they compliment each other, and how the choices of the actors enhanced the scene.

"Anima Sola" is about a woman named Beatrice, who's home is being haunted by the ghost of young boy.  She is hopeless, and in her desperation to get away from the entity she goes to the local church to pray.

You can watch the scene below.

ANIMA SOLA - Church Scene [Scene Autopsy] from LATIN HORROR on Vimeo.

In this scene, Beatrice walks up to the altar, looks around, and kneels in front of the crucifix. She crosses herself as an old woman slowly approaches the altar, fingering a rosary as she begins to pray in a sorrowful voice that is close to moaning with dread.

Beatrice's eyes tear up, there's something familiar and comforting about the prayer and there's a flash of black and a loud startling gun shot. She jumps and looks down, as the old woman turns to face her. First she says "No te olvides." in a pleading, sad voice.

Beatrice looks at her, confused and tells her that she doesn't speak Spanish while wiping a tear from her cheek. The old woman lifts her black lace veil to reveal her face, the music makes the reveal important, and you feel as though Beatrice should know this person as she bends towards her and grabs her wrist and says in a dark hoarse whisper "¡No te olvides!"

Beatrice, angry, tells her that she's hurting her and tries to pull away. The old woman tightens her grip and says again, in a forceful tone, "¡No te olvides!"

Louder, Beatrice says, "You're hurting me!"  and pulls her arm away and rushes away from the altar, glancing back at the woman as she finishes her prayer. Beatrice is a dark shadow against the sunlit frosted glass doors as she runs out of the chapel. The old woman kisses her rosary, then slowly leaves the church.

Here is the script of the scene:

Beatrice enters the church, walks down the isle and
kneels at the altar. An OLD WOMAN enters and kneels
across from her and begins an oration in Spanish.

Oye, mortal, el lamento de un alma aprisionada, 
sola, triste, abandonada en este oscuro aposento
Anima mía, Anima de paz y de guerra,
Anima de mar y de tierra,
deseo que todo lo que tenga
ausente o perdido se me entregue o aparezca¡
Oh, Anima la más sola y desamparada del purgatorio¡

Beatrice turns, something familiar about the prayer.
INSERT SFX: A deafening BLAST from a gunshot.
Beatrice snaps out of her trance with a start and is
thrown another curve -- The woman slowly turns to her,
into the light: IT’S HER NEIGHBOR! In a flash, the woman
grabs Beatrice’s wrist...

No te olvides.

I’m sorry...I don’t speak Spanish.

The woman pulls Beatrice closer, tighter. 
Beatrice grimaces in pain from the woman’s vice grip.

Let go. You’re hurting me.

¡No te olvides!

Beatrice pulls her arm free, rushes out.
The woman finishes her prayer and crosses herself. Exits.

...pues así mereceré de su “Divina
Majestad“ y misericordia infinita
mi salvación. Amén

It turns out that the old woman, Anne, is actually Beatrice's neighbor. She is portrayed as a dark force in the movie, up until the very end when it is revealed that she is actually the only person trying to help Beatrice.

When Beatrice remembers the gun shot while Anne is praying, it is a big hint that there is something off. The prayer Anne recites is an excerpt of a Spanish prayer for a Lonesome or Lost Soul called Oración al Anima Sola- which I have a feeling is where the title of the movie came from.

Below is a translation of the prayer from Arturo Vasquez

Hear, mortal, the lament of the imprisoned soul, alone, sad,
Abandoned in this obscure dwelling.
My soul, soul of peace and of war,
Soul of sea and land,
I desire that all that I have as lost or absent
Is returned to me or appears.
O Soul, the most abandoned and alone of all of purgatory!

Because by that I will merit his Divine Majesty and infinite mercy:
My salvation.

This prayer, for all it's dark  intonation and intensity onscreen, is actually a prayer for help.

"¡No te olvides!" means "Don't Forget!"

The old woman, Anne, is a spiritual medium. She is trying to help Beatrice remember what happened to her and move on. Beatrice is dead, and doesn't know it yet. She thinks she is being haunted by a child, but she is the one haunting him, as he is her son.

To Beatrice, Anne is a menacing figure. She doesn't understand what she is saying, and with Anne's tone of voice, the force behind it, and the sorrow, she assumes that she is out to get her. All of this is brought about by the voice inflection and body language of the actors. The fact that Anne's actor decided to repeat the phrase "¡No te olvides!" three times, hammers this home. In the script, it is only said twice, but the third time makes it all the more menacing.

The number three has it's own spiritual significance and weight behind it. It mirrors the concept of the Holy Trinity of the Catholic Church-- The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Although it is not said outright, to me the fact that she repeated it three times makes it all the more powerful. Anne is pleading with Beatrice, she wants to help her soul move on and leave the Purgatory she is now in. She wants to stop her suffering. But since the scene is shot from Beatrice's perspective, it is hard to understand that, as Anne sees her as a tormenting figure, a demon.

Even better is the correlation of her name. Beatrice is a psychopomp (a spiritual guide or angel) in the third volume of  Dante's Divine Comedy titled "Paradiso," she guides Dante through heaven. In the allegory of "Paradiso," Beatrice symbolizes of theology; she represents faith, hope and love. Beatrice meets Dante at the top of Mount Purgatory, and walks him through the different spheres of Heaven and up the Empyrean, where God resides. I'm not sure if her name was picked because of that, or not, but it's a neat little parallel to the story.

The name Anne means He (God) has favored me. Anne could be seen as Beatrice's psychopomp- attempting to guide her through Purgatory and on to heaven.

In conclusion, the church scene of  "Anima Sola" is short in the script and reads fast. But, onscreen, with the slow pacing building up the suspense and feelings of dread, it is a powerful example of how good acting can give a movie its soul. And that, is the art of horror.

No comments:

Post a Comment