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Julio De Grazia
A new patient mysteriously appears in a psychiatric ward. He claims to come from another planet to study humans and their behavior. The alien is gentle but criticizes humans for their harsh treatment of each other. The assigned psychiatrist is himself unhappy, and affected by the patient's insight. But he is ordered to treat the patient according to institutional procedure.Written by
Greg Pribyl <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(excerpts of Ode to Joy)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven as L.V. Beethoven
Orchestra conducted by Maestro Alfonso Devita
Choir conducted by Maestro Alberto Balzanelli
Orchestr coordinated by Maestro Carlos Stofani See more »
Today nearly everyone is familiar with holograms; three-dimensional images projected into space with the aid of a laser. As a result of their research with subatomic particles, some scientists now believe that the universe itself is a holographic projection and that all things are infinitely interconnected at a deeper level of reality. Rantes (Hugh Soto), an "extra" patient who just shows up at a mental hospital in Buenos Aires, would probably agree. In Eliseo Subiela's science fiction thriller, Man Facing Southeast, Rantes tells Psychiatrist Julio Denis (Lorenzo Quinteros) that he is a projection who has been sent from another planet to study humanity and help the suffering. He claims that man is "in the prehistory of holographic projection" and that "his notions are delusionary". Rantes spends many hours simply standing in the courtyard-facing southeast, ostensibly transmitting and receiving messages from his home planet. He seems to have all the normal attributes of a human being but tells Dr. Denis that he does not have any human feelings.
Though Denis concludes that Rantes is insane and treats him with drugs and "counseling", he becomes increasingly fascinated with this strange individual who appears to possess extraordinary abilities. During their talks, Rantes articulates his thoughts about the human condition with amazing insight, telling the doctor that the patients are the sane ones since they do not subscribe to the blatant stupidity of so-called normal people. He tells Denis, "Your reality is terrifying, Doctor." Possessing a charisma that attracts other patients to him, the skeptical Dennis compares Rantes to a Christ figure and remarks that he himself has become the Pontius Pilate in this story.
The situation gets more involved when Denis falls in love with Beatrice Dick (Ines Vernengo), an attractive woman who visits Rantes in the hospital, claiming that she met him at her church. Their deepening relationship culminates in a concert in the park where Rantes, suddenly infected by human feelings, takes over the orchestra and conducts Beethoven's Ode to Joy as the audience and hospital patients' break into a Dionysian dance. When the episode is reported in the newspaper, the doctor is called to task by his superior and told to increase Rantes' medication. Denis, becoming increasingly isolated and depressed, agrees but begins to question the entire psychiatric establishment.
Man Facing Southeast is a thought provoking and entertaining film that examines the values society uses to judge those that are different. Though Rantes claims he is unfeeling, the contrast between his level of awareness and the closed-minded psychiatrists can perhaps stand as a metaphor for the leaders in today's society and those that are being led. Is Rantes a madman, a robot, a Christ-figure, an extra-terrestrial? Are the greatest virtues of mankind: love, compassion, and justice rational or irrational? This haunting Argentine film allows the viewer to provide the answers.
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