In this film, Albert Serra offers a witty contemplation of the Three Wise Kings on a search for the newborn baby Jesus and their journey takes on epic proportions as they meander along the desert-like terrain with fortitude and stoicism.
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Joseph Speaks Hebrew and Mary speaks Catalan. That is a stretch of the imagination, but not too much of a stretch, since they don't seem to have a lot to say to each other. The 3-hour heroin/poverty epic "In Vanda's Room" was more engaging and all they do in Vanda's room is smoke heroin and complain. Still, I liked it better than this pretentious, soporific nothingfest.
A lucid and languorous journey of gorgeous images, with the luxury of time given to its audience to contemplate them earnestly. I myself decided to watch without subtitles - as I do with Tarr, Bartas et al, because a peculiar dreamlike sensation resonates from these kind of experiences, when all you have is images and time.
Birdsong is one of the few films nowadays that gives you the luxury of time. While everything outside rushes past, you can snuggle up and stop the time. A wonderful demonstration how expressive minimalism can be.
I recently signed up to write about Serra's latest (Louis XIV), so I figure it's high time I check out his earlier films. First up: Birdsong, whose many ardent admirers appreciate its empty vastnesses, its oblique piss-take on a too-told tale, and the cryptic not-quite slapstick of its cloud-addled kings, see something deeper and finer in it than I was able to make out. More muttering among the holy clowns, please.
I remember the screening at TIFF'08 that became a test in audience patience. The number of walk outs became comical and took focus off the slow moving but rewarding film unfolding. Seeing the film again now one marvels at the simplicity of the familiar story and the rich b&w cinematography but can't help but wonder exactly what the point of the film may be. That was a question the director didn't shed light on.