- Fiona Prior
Director: Pablo Larraín
If you like biopics you are presently spoilt for choice. You have the eponymous Churchill directed by Jonathan Teplitzky; Viceroy’s House, Gurinder Chadha's account of Lord Mountbatten serving as India’s last Viceroy; Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion, which gives an insight in to the life of Emily Dickinson; and then there is the film that captured my imagination, Pablo Larraín’s Neruda ‒ a colourful and, at times, surreal film about the poet, activist and Chilean Senator Neruda who was once described as the most famous Communist of his times.
I chose to see Neruda because ‒ apart from being a little in love with his love poetry ‒ the man was one of ‘those’ exotic characters of ‘that’ political era. Neruda was a communist who swanned round like a movie star, a privileged and wealthy man who was loved by the underprivileged of Chile, and a poet whose words became the voice of the sufferings of a nation’s people.
Beautiful scenes, beautiful cinematography, beautiful and telling moments ‒ such as when the poet and his wife are fine-dining and a poor woman asks earnestly, whether, after the revolution, Chileans would live like her or like Neruda. Neruda hesitates, looking at the silverware and linen. ‘Like me’ he reassures her.
Neruda presents the inconsistencies, the romantic dreams and the political realities of a historic moment – we glimpse the early career of ‘dirty war’ Pinochet, we glimpse the dreams of a political movement who still trusted that Communism would be used as a framework of liberation ‒ and we see the darks and lights of a flawed man whose words inspired political action and love.
The film Neruda is extraordinary in many ways.