Jorge Luis Borges's centennial in 1999 sparked a lot of interest worldwide, and particularly among Argentine filmmakers. Like "Un amor de Borges" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0194852/) this film portrays key moments in the life of the famous Argentine writer, but Desanzo's approach is far more original and innovative than Javier Torre's. The only real-life characters are Borges and his mother: almost all the rest are taken from his short stories: Beatriz Viterbo and Carlos Daneri from "El Aleph", Pierre Menard from the eponymous story, and Lönnrot from "La muerte y la brújula". The title of the film means "Love and dread" and is taken almost literally from one of his sonnets titled "Buenos Aires": "We are not bonded by love but by dread/That must be why I love it so much". Love and dread are indeed the two main themes of the story: Borges's platonic, unrequited passion for young and beautiful Beatriz and his obsessive, almost paranoid terror of president Juan Perón's regime and it's followers. Most of the events in the film take place in Borges's head and do a great job of recreating his particular universe. Surreal, disturbing and heart-rending, "El amor y el espanto" stands among Desanzo's best filming achievements.
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