Sometimes in the course of a gloomy conversation someone changes the subject, pointing to the need for optimism -- on the questionable theory that optimism is constructive, while pessimism is constructive only in that it builds by piling shit on top of more shit. But when optimism takes over, you hear just as much nonsense as you did under the reign of pessimism. You hear, for example, that the crisis is creative: you have to reinvent yourself, get moving; if you can't find a job, well, then invent one. And once the spate of clichés is over, silence falls again, and you are staring at the wall.
This state of mind is a bad one for going to a premiere. Premieres have always been a little overacted. You have to be an actor to take part. You have to embrace some woman so tightly that your breasts are squashed against hers. Times are not propitious for cheap gestures of fondness, so you want to think twice before you go to a première. I don't like pretending enthusiasm, so I prefer to go discreetly to an afternoon session. If I like something, I immediately tell my friends, and write a column. And if not, in times like these, I keep my mouth shut. So as not to hurt anyone.
But the other day they premiered Blancanieves (Snow White) in the Teatro de la Zarzuela, with Alfonso de Vilallonga's musical score played live. I had a feeling I might like it. I just don't trust critics, because sometimes they speak too well of a film, and sometimes too ill, and in general the film turns out to be neither one nor the other.
Outside the theater there was a protest by a crowd of anti-bullfight people going on. They must have heard that in the film the father of Snow White is a bullfighter, and so is she, and the seven dwarfs are a company that does a comedy turn in the ring. I don't know what bothers them exactly: that a film glorifies the bullfight, I suppose. To be consistent they might also protest outside flamenco concerts, and some fashion shows, and those festivals where the old folks dance to the pasodoble tunes heard at bullfights. Well, moving right along.
We go in. And once those interminable minutes are over in which the claque of family and friends applaud before anything has happened, the orchestra starts up and the film begins. I crossed my fingers so I would like it, because I want to like Spanish cinema. Not a matter of patriotism, but of survival: in these times, it is so sad if you don't like something that cost so much to produce.
The fact is that the film wrapped me up and carried me away, like one of those tales of night and fear that filled my imaginary world in childhood, and were later domesticated by political correctness. The film, in short, is an extraordinary version of the Grimm Brothers' tale.
And the actors have eyes. I say no more. Actors' eyes are little seen in Spanish cinema. But here, no doubt because they don't speak, the director has allowed them to act with their eyes. What actresses. I won't name names; I like them all. I left the theater floating, disinclined to speak: not because the film's silence was contagious, but because when I like something I have to savor it in silence, and feel that words don't serve (they are words).
I thought of the misunderstanding that brings people to compare this movie with The Artist, just because they are both silent and in black and white. Please! The Artist is a compendium of clichés, while this film calls forth deep, dark feelings that we have carried with us from infancy. Artistically, too, it is far more interesting.
Getting back to the theme of optimism, the twaddle we talk just to keep our spirits up. But the twaddle doesn't really work. We have to witness something as solid as a really good film. The love for things well made is contagious. Go and see it. We need it.