Alcarràs Review: progress devours the workers
Alcarràs – The latest harvest, winner of the Golden Bear in the last Festival of Berlin, has finally been released in Italian cinemas. The direction belongs to Carla Simón, known above all to the general public for her debut Summer 1993 (2017). It is a feature film which he had been expecting for a long time, not only for the award he received a few months ago, but also for its profound theme linked to the environmental impact, the establishment of new technologies in the agricultural industry and the devastating consequences on the living conditions of workers.
The story takes place in a town in Catalonia with a family of peach farmers at the center. All members are faced with the arrangement of new solar panels, which will make the land more fertile and efficient. Behind this incredible increase in production, the poor workers find themselves forced to increase their daily hours, to follow the orders of large companies hand in hand. These intensified rhythms will only fuel the anger of the leaders and deteriorate the emotional relationships between grandparents, fathers, mothers and children.
Alcarràs: the realistic story of a historical, social and economic era in serious difficulty
Alcarràs – The last harvest is one of those works that deserve to be seen for the reasons listed above and for the main problems of the present time. The solar panels are painted as a sort of antagonist towards human dexterity and its unbreakable commitment. In reality, these plants turn out to be a revolutionary idea in relation to water and energy savings and changes in climate change. But, at the same time, it would wipe out the integrity of a rural business that has been going on for generations. The rest of a world doomed to defeat try with their last strength to establish a serious and demanding bond with the surrounding nature before it is destroyed.
The Spanish director draws the viewer’s gaze through the focus of scenes of the intense and intimate daily sphere, from moments of lightheartedness to situations of lacerated crisis. We should not expect a film committed to the environmental and ecological question, rather it confronts us with a question of dubious and ambiguous morality on what life unleashes for or to the detriment of everyone. And to make it even more interesting, we focus on the great gap between grumpy and resentful adults and innocent and naive children.
“There is little chance for this group of characters to find a salvific path”
Being anchored in a family working tradition, there is little chance for this group of characters to find a way of salvation: the great ones let themselves be caressed by the passage of time or oppose them with gruff and authoritarian methods; young adolescents live the burden of growth with the onset of a suffering rebellion and the responsibility of a legacy to keep or what remains of it; and finally the little ones are the only ones capable of communicating, talking and relating to each other, but their speeches and their contents precipitate into playful cynicism or irritating endurance.
The advantages just described mirror also defects: the fact is that the feature film tells the tragedy of history according to the canons of cinema mainstream. However direct and effective they may be to a wider audience, they risk becoming objects of leisure and entertainment and are fixed in the popular conception of the genre. Reflection permeates for the entire duration, but in a limited way to determine a critical judgment. Alcarràs – The latest harvest can split criticism in two and can attract more attention.
It should be emphasized the extraordinary work of shooting on very long fields, ready to portray boundless landscapes and breathtaking beauty. In those particular shots the eye of the camera it seems to be of the heroic and romantic human figure in the painting Hiker on the sea of fog (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich. The interpretative difference lies in the absolute absence of invisible white to leave room for the captivating nakedness and dryness of the landscape. What we previously imagined was great, now, looking at it, it is gradually depriving itself of its essence until it is razed to the ground (the disposal of trees and agricultural property).
The characters present constitute the idol of an earthly area ready to vanish into thin air. In a definitive scene, the subjective belongs to them and then moves into the perception of whoever is watching. The exchange between the two shots decrees the end of their importance, their social value and human connection. The only ones who in any way counteract the brutality of reality are children, endowed with an imaginative gaze that makes them positively active. Who knows if out of innate wonder or out of conventional habit.
The cast that makes use of non-professional actors brings the authenticity of the narratives and psychological relationships between the individuals described. In his process of identification there is the guidance of a serious and attentive artistic personality (the director) and a spontaneous approach to life to simulate it in filmic fiction (the emotional acting of the histriones). As we have already said above, the probable contagion of popular cinematographic fiction has prevented its author from realizing a sharp and incisive poetic and political vision. But maybe that’s okay too.
Alcarràs: a battle lost from the beginning and a resigned awareness towards the end
Establishing an empathic bond with those who take on missions is an excellent tool for the success of a film. Here, in fact, a slight veil of tenderness is felt: for personalities, for internal and external concerns, for the invisible and overwhelming danger. What belongs to Carla Simón in future projects is to not leave his film construction in a floating state in such a way as to establish a unitary solidification of the entire creative system. And we at MonkeyBit are convinced that it will succeed successfully.
Fighting a losing battle has become the fundamental branch of all these stories with the precariousness of groups, associations, ethnic groups, etc. at the center of the profile.. However, the lack of a strongly personal and highly conscious stance of political, social and economic exteriority suffers. We advise our readers to retrieve the product as soon as possible as the distribution has been very limited with its release and we do not believe it will stay there for long.