Wednesday, June 15
Kaisaniemi metro station, 19:59
We have just seen an early performance of Memoria at the cinema in Kaisaniemi and we have walked to the metro station for the journey home. The descent is a kaleidoscope of reflections and I photograph a woman watching her phone as she travels in the other direction.
Memoria took me straight back to my teenage years when, in a desire to become adult and intellectual, I joined the Liverpool Experimental Film Society and watched films like Onibaba without the benefit of subtitles. Memoria took place in a mixture of English and Portuguese, all translated into Finnish subtitles. I began to realise that my failure to comprehend absolutely all of the spoken Portuguese, or the Finnish subtitles, did not put me at any disadvantage at all.
The story: a woman hears a sound like an explosion in the distance. She hears it regularly. Nobody else hears it, except for one occasion when a man hears it and runs for his life while everyone else watches him. She talks to a sound engineer who eventually duplicates the noise. She goes back to talk to him but nobody at his place of work remembers him. She watches some jazz. She talks with her sister. She visits an archaeological dig in the jungle. She meets an old man with the same name as the sound engineer. He dies and comes back to life. She recognises his hut. He denies that those memories belong to her. They sit at length listening to a wide array of soundscapes that enter the hut. A huge alien spacecraft takes off from the middle of the jungle, leaving a light ring in the sky. We see people waking up or coming to. We hear a radio describing a minor earthquake, which we know resulted from the departure of the space craft. The film ends.
Most of the film consists of very long shots (four or five minutes, perhaps) taken with a stationary camera. Very little movement occurs in many of these shots. In some Tilda Swinton’s expression or body language changes very slowly.
I liked it, but then I have seen Onibaba twice.