Viva la Muerte (and the Panic Movement)
At first glance everything about this film, and movement, is a nightmare. Literally. This movement relies heavily on daydream/nightmare sequences as an expository element for inner turmoil and repressed feelings. Many of the visual and thematic elements in the Panic Movement are very deeply rooted in religious iconography, but with perverse twists. I would describe this movement as a cynical view on the religious traditions of Catholicism and dark humor used as the means to translate this belief system to an audience. These men did shit piles of drugs and used an altered state of mind to explores a complex system of beliefs in an abstract way utilizing a neo-realistic means of storytelling. Did you catch all that? Am I rambling? Probably.
Viva la Muerte explores communism through a perverted sense of religion as seen through the eyes of a young boy. As it stands this film feels very pro-Communism anti-religion, while using religion as the vehicle for expressing Communist sympathies. I know it sounds hard to understand, and it is. The boy Fando has very intense, lustful fantasies involving his mother, strange men and women, using Catholic iconography to satisfy themselves. The dream/meta sequences are shot using vivid gels and high contrast footage. This adds to the intensity of these sequences.
Fando and his mother have an Oedipal relationship which mocks that of Jesus and his mother, the Virgin Mary. Fando's father in this is an apparition, who is more of a manifestation of heroism than a physical being. The boy becomes restless and changes due to the transformative qualities of the visions or dreams that he is having. His actions become those of a person being crushed under the weight of a dichotomous zealous puritanism and burgeoning hedonism. Those around him continue on their futile journey of religious fervor, mostly his mother, all while contrition and derision bubble to the surface. All because Communism was ultimately derailed by religious dedication. UGH.
Fernando Arrabal, the director, seems to be so enraptured with his own intelligence, he fails to see the importance of filmmaking as an art in his film. I get the sense that this film is the perfect example of someone filming their own mental masturbation, after having done countless drugs. He views religion, The Bible, these things of a sacred nature as one giant abstract orgy to which he wants to bring three sex buckets and a beach towel. The clear allegory, for me, is that much like religion, Communism can be perverted and misconstrued by the everyday people that it intends to help.
I prefer Jodo to Arrabal. Jodo has more fun than Arrabal, who uses his films as a means to prove his intelligence. This is one to watch as part of a Movie Club, where you can discuss with friends its many flaws and less than moderate amount of merits. Maybe that is the strength of this film, the ability to talk about it. Watch it, if you have people with whom you can discuss it.