Dream Of Light

"Weak"

Dream Of Light Review


One is tempted during the opening of Dream of Light to proclaim it one of the most fascinating documentaries ever made. For 15 minutes, there is nearly no dialogue, as Antonio López García, a renowned Spanish painter, prepares a canvas for his next work: a painting of the sun as it dances across the leaves and fruit of a quince tree. The detail is remarkable, and you sit up in your seat, waiting for things to really get going.

But about an hour into the painting (and six or so weeks in his real life), you start to realize that the emperor may indeed be without clothes. García's painting indeed slowly comes to life, the key word being slowly. In fact, it's so slow it is literally mind numbing. Yes, you will fall asleep. No, you won't miss anything. And even after that hour, you've still got 88 minutes to go. But then comes the kicker: Imagine your surprise when García actually quits his painting because Spain's bad weather makes the light all wrong and he can't continue.

No, really. After 90 minutes, this documentary about a painting becomes a documentary about the drawing García decides to make instead.

Or is it even that? Dream of Light is shot in a documentary style, but it's clearly not a traditional documentary. Why? Because multiple camera angles, seamless intercutting, and pro-grade production design make it clear that multiple takes were involved, and that, in other words, at least some of Dream of Light has been staged for the benefit of the viewer. How do I feel about this? I'm not sure. But maybe if all this work had created a film worth sitting through I wouldn't be as perturbed as I am about it.

Whether it's a documentary or not, the sheer dumbness of the way this movie was put together is alone enough to drag it down. Director Víctor Erice spends plenty of time with García at his work, showing us the painstaking detail he takes in getting through a project, but he also sidetracks the movie with a half-dozen side stories that are as meaningless as they are dull. I'd describe them... but I can't. I never did figure out the identities of all the bizarre people who wander into García's backyard to watch him painting the quince tree. Some are family, and one appears to be a fellow painter, but most seem to be handymen working on a construction job in his house. And they add to this story how? Largely unreadable subtitles don't help things at all.

Ultimately, like many films about art, Dream of Light is a pretty movie that is pleasing on the eyes. But like much of the art itself, it also leaves a lot open for interpretation, and even more to the imagination. Too much for my taste.

Aka Quince Tree of the Sun; El Sol del Membrillo.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Víctor Erice

Producer: María Moreno


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