In order to do the movie the way they wanted to, the filmmakers had to delay shooting for six months: not just to line up the necessary funding, but because Gael García Bernal was working on another project. Also, Luis Gnecco - who had recently slimmed down - was dismayed when the director told him that he'd have to put on weight to portray his character (by some accounts almost 20 kilograms, or 40 pounds). Larraín explained apologetically, "you know, you can't have a skinny Neruda". There are a number of scenes where Neruda is shown with his shirt off, so simply using padding under his costume wouldn't work. While they were waiting, Larraín and screenwriter Calderón made another project, The Club. After they'd finished the Neruda film Larraín worried that Gnecco, who had to lose weight all over again, might be "still mad at me for that". See more »
What you want is a great escape. Yes?
I won't play the fascists' game. I'll become their worst nightmare. In order to do that, I need to be a popular giant.
You can't do that.
I already have.
No, you can't. People would say you used this persecution to become a saint. That we were never actually oppressed. That we like to play the victim. That we like to suffer. But they're killing us, for real. Look. I only ask you to be a bit more humble. Good luck on your journey.
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I think the movie is a parable of Chile's or Latin America's modern tragic history. Dictatorships of any sort ravaged the continent for some decades. Artists such as Neruda suffered under these regimes. Remember Chilean's Victor Jara executed on a stadium? I think Chileans viewers will find clues in the movie that other ones would miss.
Oscar Pelochonneau represents a typical instrument of these dictatorships: the military/cop/bureaucrat/judge who executes the unjust sentences. Even if he reads Neruda's poetry, he does not understand it; he is under the weight of his mediocrity. Moreover, he despises the rebels-in a scene we see how he calls them scums; and this shows his ignorance.
Neruda represents then the creator, the artist whose words transcend historical time-his words survive the temporary regimes and give hope to those who suffer. In this sense, in a surprising act, we see how Neruda's friends give away clues to where he might be - he can't be apprehended because his creation cannot be apprehended, so we might just well tell you where he is. Also, in this sense, even his follower and what he represents is an idea that the writers of age imagined already.
Common in Latin America literature and cinema (eg Madeinusa, Jauja), we encounter a mysterious, lawless, remote and harsh territory. In these territories one uninitiated foreigner might experience transformation and sometimes redemption. Now, we have Oscar following Neruda in such a territory at the country border. We may expect that after his experience here, the typical Oscar will raise somewhere to be a better person.
Perhaps due to the focus on the above themes and the pursuing story, there is a smaller emphasis on the actual poetry or on his socialist views. It's interesting to glimpse into the beginnings of socialist attempts in Chile. The movie raises other questions-say, how a bourgeois as Neruda is after all, is understanding the lower class - and he is confronted about this by a peasant. Other question: up to what point you risk your freedom to help him escape?
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