Gigante (Giant) Adrian Biniez (Uruguay 2009) Horatio Comandelle; Leonor Svareas
Viewed Star and Shadow Cinema 9 June ’11; ticket £5
Love conquers all….
Gigante (G) won its director Adrian Biniez (AB) a Silver Bear at the Berlin FF 2009. An award that tends to confirm the abandonment by the German film industry of any semblance of maintaining or taking forward the particular expressive language developed by German film makers. Mainstream German film has embraced Hollywood as its model and exemplar of how to put image onto screen. G is a ‘cute’ film.
The final shot of G says everything about its underlying message. Final shots are sometimes irrelevant to a film’s actual purpose and impact. It’s often the case that final shots are grafted onto the body of a film as a formulaic means of gratifying an externalised power such as government censors, executive producers broadcasters etc. This is not the case with G whose final shot confirms it as a bourgeois apologia that fails to be consistent even in terms of its own script. The eponymous protagonist, G, finally makes contact the woman he has been stalking throughout the film. At the beach he approaches her from behind makes eye contact with her and sits down beside her. Cue: fade up music which comprises a sort of mushy latino pulp rhythm which sees out the shot and is laid over the end credits. But what we know about these two people is that they are both big heavy metal fans. The film’s logic points to a heavy metal soundtrack over the final romantic shot. But the film has sold out to a soft focus romantic closure. Heavy metal at this point might suggest other outcomes and ways in which their relationship might be defined. AB goes for the cute message.
The initial sequences of G establish the protagonist in locations and situations that are familiar yet ‘other’ in their potential. We see the world of the gigantic hypermarket at night with its phalanx of cleaners, bakers, stackers supervisors and security men. A world of the night, a hidden world, veiled from the sight of the consumers who shop there during its opening hours. A night time world with its own values and perspective. Contrasting the world of night is the night worker’s world of day, dominated by daytime TV through which portal streams a culture of undifferentiated babble of image sound and information.
These initial locations and situations are not developed expressively for their innate potential to form or suggest significance. They are simply devices. The Giant’s job is to monitor the screens of the cctv security system. Like Andrea Arnold’s similar protagonist in Red Row, cctv screens, acts of surveillance are just mechanisms exploited to put the plot into drive. In Red Row and Gigante surveillance has no filmic purpose. Unlike Coppola’s Conversation where the act of surveillance probes state of mind and forms a sheaf about the content.
On the evidence of Gigante AB shares Hollywood’s core values in relation to drama: it functions to normalise life and to absorb the other into the mainstream. The typical narrative framework involves a personal overcoming. It is all subjectivity.
AB in making G uses the mechanics of his plot to appropriate the ‘other’ and massage it into the mainstream schema of appearances and affects. The world of the alienated and marginal is neutralised and rendered comfortable. The core of the film is G’s obsessive pursuit of the cleaner, Julia or rather the image of the cleaner, because this story is about image not the actual. The cleaner is an image emptied of meaning, a figure from a poster who might step out of the billboard and walk the streets. Except of course she never loses her mono dimensionality.
G is obsessive not just about the cleaner but also about his fitness regime. A daily sweated work out and the image of a pin up girl: it’s like the guy’s in prison, And in significant ways he is, but Gigante ignores this layer of possibility opting to show that the way out is through a romantic relationship AB’s purpose is not to explore state of mind or context but simply to show that a force called love can transform situations and redeem. The world of alienation and marginality is annexed by Hollywood’s favourite mechanism: falling in love with a one dimensional being. In which state the smitten is endowed with the ability to overcome. It’s a fake proposal from a film that twists the reality it establishes into Hollywood fantasial tale.
Obsession with the image of another can never have a good ending: there is only the possibility of frustration disappointment disenchantment. Psychic investment along such a narrowed channel can only lead to an explosion of some sort, not necessarily externally violent, sometimes internally shattering. Gigante as a film grounded in obsession with image but content to ignore its implications, is a malevolent fabrication, a lie.