If we consider cinema as an artistic expression, La Novia might be a work of art in capital letters. This film, with twelve nominations to the Goya’s Awards, is just the second one made by the director, Paula Ortiz. She decided to produce a film based on the book Bodas de sangre, written by the grenadian Federico García Lorca. Ortiz was inspired since she was a little child by the words of Lorca, this is one of the reasons that pushed her to film La Novia. She also considered that it was important to remember the roots of our literary tradition in a moment where past and present are constantly in touch. So she decided that it was the moment to pay homage to one of her greatest influences.
Paula Ortiz has been inspired by other literary adaptations, as El perro del hortelano, by Pilar Miró; Cumbres Borrascosas, by Andrea Arnold, or the ballet version of Bodas de Sangre, made by Carlos Sureda. The transformation of the Lorca’s text hasn’t been literary, considering that the script is composed by verses and prose. In both cases, we note the Andalucian folklore in every word. It is not a complex language, you just need to get used to it. The good thing about Lorca’s poetry is that he knew how to combine beauty and simplicity in a perfect balance.
The pain, the revenge and the love are captured by a warm light that characterizes the whole film. The soil colors represent the arid atmosphere of the place where the rural tragedy is set, the interior of the Iberian peninsula. In order to represent this scenery, the director decided to use some landscapes from Aragón (Spain) and Turkey. And she definitely got it. The appearance of the fields is totally deserted and drought, making us think about a dead nature.
In the middle of the desolation we found a story that also ends with the death, like all tragedies do. Maybe not all of us know the whole plot of Bodas de Sangre but, in this case, it won’t be considered as ‘spoiler’ to speak about how the story ends, because what means the most it’s not what, but how.
Two families confronted because of the death of one of its members are the unifying thread and the fact that provokes the final explosion of the film. But the wedding of the son of the same family is what makes the plot go on. Inma Cuesta, as the fiancée, totally gets the point of what her role was supposed to be: a woman who goes out of her mind pushed by an attraction to a man. She makes us feel their love as something instinctive, almost primitive. The man, of course, is not her fiancé, but they know each other. This trio, the fiancés and the man, were friends when they were still kids. But they belonged to those confronted families, so the girl got stuck in the middle of both.
Not just a story about a trio
It is notable that we don’t know the name of any of the characters of the film, just the name of the fiancées lover, Leonardo. That makes us feel as if all the characters that conform the plot were just “playing a role” and that Leonardo is coming from outside of this sphere to makes everything turn down. Nevertheless, it is the passion between him and the fiancée who provokes the misfortune of both.
Asier Etxeandia, as the fiancé, transmits the verses of Lorca with a surprisingly naturalness, although he seemed to be type-casted as a humor actor. The director decided to give the fiancé a bigger role in the film than he has in the poems and that’s what, indeed, turns the story more human and true.
I couldn’t forget to mention that La Novia has been the biggest loser of the Goyas Awards of this year. The film had twelve nominations but only got two: best supporting actress, to Luisa Gavas, and best photography direction, to Miguel Ángel Amoedo. A disappointing fact, taking into account that it was competing for the best direction, among other important awards. In spite of what the critics say, it’s true that the work of Paula Ortiz may contain some errors, but the truth is that we don’t see films like this one every day in the industry of Spanish cinema.
Surely the moment with the biggest impact for the main part of the spectators and the most commented might have been the one in which the fiancée is making circles around a bonfire. This moment symbolizes how the fiancé loses her mind and runs away from the wedding party. Especially this scene is fitted with a great artistic charge thanks to the use of different images that come faster as the music’s tempo increases.
Even though the film is full of impressive scenes, the moment that made me admire and appreciate the film was the one where both lovers are lying on the field, just after having escaped from the wedding, and they have made love. At that point, Inma Cuesta pronounces the most beautiful verses of the whole script: “porque me arrastras y voy/ y me dices que me vuelva/ y te sigo por el aire/ como una brizna de hierba” (“there’s no hour of the day/that I don’t long to see you/ for you draw me, and I go,/ and you tell me to return/ and I follow you through the air,/ like a straw lost in the wind”). The tenderness that her sight and her words got my heart completely melted and my tears running through my face.
I find the merit in starting from the base of a few poems to film an extraordinary creation without the need of any exaggeration, just with the talent of those actors and the director’s love for its profession. And that is what illustrates the film: the simplicity of the well-done things and the passion for art.