FW: This film is a wonderful road movie: The characters have to cover a certain distance; their inner motivations come into contact with an extraordinary landscape. But the title also includes the word “movie”, because cinema itself displays its magical power once again in this film.
MR: It gets even more interesting when you look at the film by Carlos Gavirias, Retratos en un mar de mentiras (Portraits in a Sea of Lies). The film shows a young woman on the voyage back across Columbia to her former home. During the voyage repressed memories gradually arise about her family who were murdered by rebel groups. Here the real setting of Columbia is very important: it’s a country that has been embroiled in a civil war for 60 years. People have disappeared without a trace. Hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered. Each road movie has such a landscape that tells its own story.
Is it made explicit or is it only suggested?
FW: Both. In Road, Movie and Retratros en un mar de mentiras the landscape mirrors inner conflicts and at the same time is a very tangible place of longing. The Columbians consider themselves some of the happiest people on earth and love their country – despite an often horrifying history.
Signposts on cinematic maps
When looking at these filmic landscapes could one also speak of a metaphorical level? Can the films be seen as a map of the soul?
MR: If you like, yes. For example, Sukunsa viimeinen (Pudana - Last of the Line) by Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio takes place in the arctic snowscapes of north-western Russia. The main character Neko is the last in her family line belonging to the indigenous tribe of the Nenets. She is supposed to assimilate into Soviet society. Neko stands before the great task of maintaining the traditional rituals and shamanism of her people. Her character is reflected in her natural, indigenous relationship to the expansive landscape. The cultural dilemma is also expressed in the approaching destruction of this natural environment.
FW: The most beautiful, funniest and romantic example is perhaps the French film Les Nuits de Sister Welsh (Sister Welsh's Nights) by Jean-Claude Janer, which brings inner landscapes to the screen with very powerful imagery. We see a sailing ship on rough seas and a nun, who is hopelessly in love with the ship’s captain. And this originates from deep inside a girl whose desires take shape within imagined settings. Things are turned around in her head and she is able to find something romantic in reality as well.