Tilda Swinton in “Memoria”: On the Trail of Big Bang – Culture

Do people dream of sleeping? Or is sleeping in a dream a real level of consciousness that is unattainable because the dream will realize its state at that very moment? Cinema has always maintained a symbiotic relationship with dream consciousness, also because it is so close to cinematic experience (it is no coincidence that psychoanalysis arose around the same time). In Christopher Nolan’s Escheresque “Inception,” the sleeping person moves through dreams as in architecture that leads deeper and deeper into the subconscious. And the Marvel movie “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” declared that dreams are a portal to an infinite number of parallel universes.

Apart from such blockbuster scenarios, the films of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul are often described as the cinema of dreams. They follow their own logic, in which states of consciousness and the course of time are permeable: spirits wander, the dead come into contact with the living. Daily miracles that are not meant to amaze, but to train our receptivity to the subtle world. In the cinema of dreams, people even watch others sleep.

“I never dream,” says a man in Memoria, whom botanist Jessica (Tilda Swinton) met on the banks of a river, where he was climbing fish in front of his little hut. Non-dreamers must feel excluded from Weerasethakul cinema, but Hernan, as the hermit is called, has already reached a higher level of consciousness; Here dreams only distract from the basic information. (He doesn’t watch movies either.)

Then “Memoria” goes to a place where the laws of cinema and the logic of dreams merge: Hernan lies on the grass on the river bank to sleep. Jessica sits next to him and watches the quiet sleeper for about seven minutes. Insects sing, river ripples, time passes and it seems to stand still. Cinematic reality, expansive and at the same time very intense.

The limits of our externally tested world

This mind-expanding sequence captures the essence of Apichatpong Weerasethakul cinema, pushing the boundaries of our outer world with each film. “I’m like a hard drive,” Hernan later explains to Jessica. He has preserved all the experiences of human history, both good and painful. “And you are my antenna.” There they sit together at the table in his hut, while the soundtrack of a long old memory is heard; Escape, violent action. Like all Weerasethakul films, “Memoria” tells it from a subjective point of view, but its perspective is global, almost – the last punch line – cosmic.


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In Memoria, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year, Weerasethakul (who won the Palme d’Or in 2010 for Uncle Boonmee Remembers His Past Lives) debuts with a big name in world cinema. However, Tilda Swinton’s introspective play does not make his film a stellar medium. Swinton acts like a membrane, or, in the words of Hernan, an “antenna” in another consciousness, another idea of ​​cinema.

Jessica traveled to Bogotá, Colombia to visit her ailing sister Karen (Agnes Brique) and research local orchid species. She may have recently lost her husband (the movie only hints), but her confusion is evident in her hesitant step through town and nature — longtime cinematographer Weerasethakul takes her Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (“Call Me By Your Name”) in long shots.

And then there’s this sound: A bang – “like a rumble from the heart of the earth” – that only Jessica can hear. In order to track down her case, she searches for a music producer also named Hernán; An earlier incarnation of the hermit of the same name, this time played by Juan Pablo Origo.

City, Nature: “Memoria” unfolds in an ecstatic-like flow.Photo: kicking the machine

He tries to reconstruct the noise in the recording studio, but the sound may not be of terrestrial origin. The blast follows Jessica down the street, in nature, at the University Hospital, as she befriends anthropologist Agnes (Jane Ballbar), who is unearthing human remains thousands of years old in Colombia. “I think I’m going crazy,” Jessica once told her. Agnes answers: “There are worse things.”

(In cinemas since Thursday at Mobi starting August 5th)

One prefers not to wake up from the films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul. However, it reveals its alibi-like flow only if one allows oneself to openly perceive this cinema, where the noises from the violent ages of (colonial) history and the sound of nature create an equally tangible reality.

In that reality, it no longer matters whether the films are set in Thailand or Colombia, quite the opposite: Karen Juan (Daniel Jimenez Cacho)’s husband says to Jessica, dashing Spanish is perfect for poetry. Despite its beauty – or rather because of – Weerasethakul Cinema accepts everything ephemeral revived in a new form. Juan wants to write a poem about mushrooms: “The smell of the virus. The fragrance of decay.” It is ideal that the fragrance “Memoria” approaches in its most visible moment. harmonic experiences.

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