This movie is a declaration of love to cinema that is used as a metaphor for the universe itself. We are the films and God is projecting them, including this one with Rachel and Leopoldo, who in a former life literally co-invented cinema as an assistant of Thomas A. Edison named William K.L. Dickson. Written by
Michel Hafner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A deeply felt meditation on love, death, and spirituality
Orthodox religion teaches that man has just one life in which to merit his eternal reward or damnation. Yet today approximately one in four Americans and many Eastern religions believe in reincarnation, the idea that repeated rebirth in human bodies continues until the soul has reached a state of perfection. In his 1995 film, Don't Die Without Telling Me Where You're Going, Argentine director Eliseo Subiela (Man Facing Southeast) uses the idea of reincarnation to tell a touching story about the enduring power of love. Adapted from a novel by Uruguayan writer Hermenegildo Sabat, the film is fantasy, but the emotions dealt with are very real.
Leopoldo (Dario Grandinetti), like his father, is a projectionist at the local cinema. His dream, however, is to become an inventor. With the help of his friend Oscar (Oscar Martinez), who has invented a robot in the image of famous tango singer Carlos Gardel, Leopoldo creates a machine that can record a person's dreams and play them back later on a videotape.
The film opens in New Jersey in the year 1885. Thomas Edison's assistant is saying good bye to his wife who has just passed away. We are then transported to modern day Buenos Aires where Leopoldo has recorded a dream in which he feels overwhelmed with love for a woman he does not know. He has been married to Susana (Monica Galin) for twenty years, but his love has become mechanical. Amazingly, the next day he sees the woman (Marianna Arias) in his dreams standing outside his theater. She explains that her name is Rachel and that she was married to Leopoldo, then named William, over one hundred years ago. She also tells the astonished projectionist that they have reincarnated together many times throughout the centuries in different roles. Like the angels in Wings of Desire, she is a spirit whom Leopoldo can see and talk with but cannot touch. He longs to hold and kiss her but the laws of the universe prevent this.
Fears begin to arise about his mental health when he is seen talking to himself as though someone were standing next to him. Leopoldo's love for Rachel only deepens, however, and both must struggle to overcome their deepest fears, Rachel to accept life, Leopoldo to accept death. Enhanced by the music of Franz Schubert and a lovely original score by Pedro Aznar, Don't Die Without Telling Me Where You're Going is a deeply felt meditation on love, death, and spirituality. In lesser hands, it could have become mawkish and unconvincing, yet Mr. Subiela is a true poet, and in spite of some initial resistance, I was moved by this sensitive work.
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