Saturday, June 11, 2011

Perfumed Nightmare, Mababangong Bangungot

                                                                                                                                                               Third cinema is the cinema that recognizes in that struggle the most gigantic cultural, scientific, and artistic manifestation of time, the great possibility of constructing a liberated personality with each people at its starting point – in  a word the decolonization of culture.
        - Fernando Solanas and Octavio Gettino

Third cinema would be those films that fight the System, those which turn their back on and oppose the System. One film that fits the characteristics of third cinema is the work of Kidlat Tahimik, entitled Mababangong Bangungot.

 Third cinema is deconstructive and constructive. Mababangong Bangungot is deconstructive in such a way that it does not belong to any genre. It also destroys the fantasy of imaginary bourgeois universe (Kidlat’s concept of a beautiful and progressive Paris and New York) and the concept of the masses as lazy, indolent and dangerous (the people of the barrio are simple individuals; they are peaceful and very hard-working). It constructs living reality which recaptures truth. At the end of the film, Kidlat realizes the consequences of the promise of pasture and progression of the Americans and he is exposed to the real outcome of progress.     

In the film we are shown that the place is a colonized territory. The film showed two sides of the world, the simple barrio where Kidlat came from and the progressive city of Paris. When Kidlat came to Paris, he couldn’t believe what kind of world lies out there. He even asked his mother in his letter why their country can’t have progress like that of Paris.

Documentary is perhaps the main basis of revolutionary film-making. Mababangong Bangungot does not belong to any genre. It is more of a documentary which uses the thoughts of Kidlat Tahimik as narration (voice of God). It is not particularly conscious of the mise-en-scene, the construction of its framing and composition. It is like different kinds of footages tied up together with narration.

Revolutionary cinema provides discovery through transformation. Kidlat transforms himself at the latter part of the film. At the beginning, he is an avid fan of the Americans especially Wermer von Braun. “In America, I could become an astronaut; here I am only a jeepney driver.” These were the lines of Kidlat when asked why he admired America that much. In order to impose itself, neo-colonialism needs to convince the people of a dependent country of their own inferiority. In the end, Kidlat breaks this by insisting that he does not want to go to America, and he’ll choose his own vehicle no matter what. Third cinema should not only interpret the world, it should change it. “If the small chimneys worked, why the super chimneys? If the small markets worked, why supermarkets? If small airplanes worked, why super flying machines?” In this part of the film, Kidlat starts to question the concept of progress. He even starts to question his liking for the Americans. In the end, he starts to resist progress and the promise of green pastures in America. He chose his vehicle and chose his bridge.

“I am Kidlat Tahimik, I choose my vehicle and I can cross all bridges.””When the typhoon blows off its cocoon, the butterfly embraces the sun. The sleeping typhoon must learn to blow again.” These are some of the recurring lines in the film. There are so many poetic lines but these are the most significant ones. At first Kidlat’s father blew the strong wind to fight the Americans, and in the end Kidlat also learn to fight and blow really hard to destroy such a big myth about progress and his admiration to the Americans. 

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