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Javier Bardem i/in Biutiful, instrueret af/directed by Alejandro Gonsalez Inarritu

Søndag var hele familien inde for at se Biutiful, Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritus‘ seneste film. Byen Barcelona, der spiller en væsentlig rolle i filmen, vil nok aldrig være den samme for os igen. Eller rettere, ingen storby vil længere være helt den samme for os igen.

En af de nærmeste dage modtager jeg i posten en bog jeg netop har bestilt, der beskriver de byer og det liv på bagsiden, de danner grundlag for, som filmen Biutiful så råt skildrer. Bogen hedder ‘Arrival City – How the largest migration in history is reshaping our world‘ og er skrevet af Doug Sanders. Og det er netop Barcelona som ‘Arrival City‘ filmen Biutiful skildrer, første stop for mange afrikanske illegale immigranter, for kinesiske flygtninge, for alle mulige, der ser Europa som deres redning og byerne i Europa som deres foretrukne sted at slå sig ned. Men mere om bogen når jeg har fået den og læst den. Så følg med her på bloggen.

Historien i Biutiful handler om den kræftsyge familiefar og små-svindler Uxbal, der spilles storslået af Javier Bardem, og alle personerne omkring ham, finder sted på baggrunden af den nedre verden, alle storbyer indeholder. Det er den verden, hvor byens turistattraktioner kun titter frem i krogen af billederne, set på afstand – såvel fysisk som mentalt – fordi indbyggerne i den nedre by enkelt sagt har andet for i deres liv, end glæden ved at beskue historien. De har, om muligt, blot deres egen og deres nærmestes historie, de imod alle odds tilsyneladende, forsøger at holde liv i. Således også Uxbal.

Og dog, for i alt det mismod filmen skildrer så skræmmende stærkt, favner Uxbal – midt i sin kamp for at overleve længe nok til, at han kan sikre sine børn en kurs og en sikkerhed – de døde. Han sidder vagt ved de døde fra nabolaget, for at hjælpe dem over på den anden side, og for at høre deres sidste ord – og for de håndører han tjener ved at fortælle de dødes sidste ord videre til de efterladte. Mit i mismodet, det magiske. Det uforklarlige.

Og sammen med det en overvældende hjertevarme for alle de mennesker, Uxbal omgiver sig med. Han er ganske enkelt et godt menneske midt i den nedre verden. Men altså et menneske, der er ved at dø.

Før Uxbal forlader os, dør og lemlæstes der dog en hel del. De kinesiske slavearbejdere, der hver nat lukkes inde bag en låst dør i et kælderlokale, der kvæles i deres søvn på grund af de billige gasvarmere; de afrikanske taskesælgere, som Uxbal både hjælper og beskytter, der rammes hårdt af en politirazzia, hvor de både får bank og køres ned af politibilerne midt i Barcelonas centrale turistområde ved Plaza Catalunya og Ramblaen.

Men det er kun sjældent vi er i den del af byen Barcelona, de fleste turister besøger. Mestendels er vi i Raval og andre af byens arbejderkvarterer. Gaudis La Sagrada skimtes kun i det fjerne, ligeså den olympiske by og Frank Gehry’s El Pez/The Fish, den store metal fisk, og også Jean Nouvels Torre Agbar, toner kun frem på afstand. For personerne i Biutiful er hverdagen kendetegnet ved fugtige lejligheder, klamme kældre, overfyldte små-butikker, dårlig, genopvarmet mad, køleskabe, der kun virker lejlighedsvis, cigaretter, regnvejr, rygende skorstene og lange, lange, håbløse dage.

Der er ikke andet at sige end: Gå ind og se den film. En menneske- og byskildring af de sjældne; en film, der ikke lefler, men råt for usødet skildrer et liv i en globaliseret storby så man aldrig vil kunne se på byernes overflade uden at ihukomme de mennesker, der bebor dens nedre verden. Mennesker der netop er – mennesker og derfor bør behandles som mennesker. Det gør byen i filmen Barcelona ikke. Det gør byer kun alt for sjældent.

Welcome to the English version of this post

This last Sunday the whole family went to see Biutiful, director Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritus‘ latest epic. Barcelona, playing such a crucial part in the movie, will most likely never be the same for us again. Probably no city will ever be the same again for us after this experience.

Shortly I will receive a book I just ordered, that depicts exactly these cities and the life in the nether world, that is at the heart of the movie, Biutiful. The book is called ‘Arrival City – How the largest migration in history is reshaping our world‘ og is written by Doug Sanders. And it is exactly Barcelona as ‘Arrival City’ the movie Biutiful shows, the first stop for many illegal African immigrants, for Chinese refugees, for all sorts of people that see Europe as their salvation, and the cities in Europe as their preferred place to settle down. Much more on this when I receive and have read the book. Stay tuned.

The story is about Uxbal, cancer-ridden small-time crook, played magnificently by Javier Bardem, and all the people around him, that inhabit the nether-world, that all cities seem to contain. It is a world, where the tourist attractions are only glimpsed in the far distance, mentally and physically detached from the lives of the people of the nether world, who are occupied, not by history, but simply by the effort to survive. If anything, it is the history of their own life and that of their closest relations that they against all odds try to keep alive. Thus also for Uxbal.

And yet, in the midst of this despair the movie conveys to us, Uxbal – fighting to survive long enough to secure his children and their future in some form – is communicating with the dead. He sits at wakes for people of the neighborhood, to help the deceased to the other side and to listen to their final words – and to make the small change he is given for conveying the final words of the deceased to the bereaved. In the middle of despair, the magical. The inexplicablable.

And in all of this an overwhelming love for all the people, that surround Uxbal. He is quite frankly a good man in the nether world. But, as it were, a dying man.

Before Uxbal leaves us behind, a bunch of people die or are mutilated. The Chinese slave workers, locked up in a cellar every night, that suffocate in their sleep because of the bad gas heaters; the African bag sellers, that Uxbal help and protect, that are hit hard by a police raid, where they both get beaten and run over by police cars in the heart of the Barcelona tourist area around Plaza Catalunya and the Rambla.

But only rarely do are we in the part of Barcelona favoured by the tourists. Mostly we are in El Raval or some of the city’s other working class neighborhoods. Gaudis La Sagrada is only seen in the distance, as is the Olympic village and Frank Gehry’s El Pez/The Fish, the big metal mesh fish on the beach, and also Jean Nouvels Torre Agbar, only appears in the distance. The environment, the people in Biutiful inhabit, is characterized by damp apartments, horrid basements, crammed shops, bad, reheated food, refrigerators that only work occasionally, cigarettes, rain, smoking chimneys and long, long, hopeless days.

I can only add: go see the movie. A tale of people and a city of a rare kind; a film that panders to nothing, but unsweetened portrays life in a globalized city in a way that one will never be able to look at surface of the city without remembering the human beings, that inhabit its nether world. Human beings that are just that – human beings and therefore ought to be treated as such. The city Barcelona in this movie desn’t do that. Cities only rarely do.

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2 thoughts on “biutiful by / biutiful city

  1. Forøvrigt er musikken også helt i topklasse. Argentineren Gustavo Santaolalla er manden bag de spinkle lyde. Han komponerede musik til Inarritu’s film Babel, til filmen om Che Guevara, Motorcykel Dagbøgerne, og til Brokeback Mountain, for at nævne nogle få.

    By the way, the score also is fantastic. The Argentinian Gustavo Santaolalla is the composer. He also did the score for another Inarritu film, Babel, and for The Motorcycle Diaries, the movie on Che Guevara, and for Brokeback Mountain, to name but a few.

  2. Pingback: lyd af by / sound of city « byens øjne

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