Thursday, February 16, 2006

Perfumed Nightmare by Kidlat Tahimik

Our next film discussion and screening will feature the following film on Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 7:00pm :

Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik both directs and stars in Perfumed Nightmare. As the film opens, we see him in three stages of life (symbolized by toy and then real "jeepneys," the elaborately recrafted and decorated vehicles that have their origins in the Jeeps left by the Allies in World War II) crossing the bridge - "the bridge of life" - to his village. Narrating in voiceover, Tahimik explains the patterns of daily life in the village. He has a fascination with the Voice of America broadcasts, and particularly with the NASA space program. He longs to be part of the developed world, and forms a Werner von Braun fan club. When an American arrives for an aborted international conference, he gets his chance. The American asks him to come to Paris, to run his chewing-gum-ball machine concession on the streets. In Paris, and on a trip to Germany, he makes friends and discovers that progress in the developed world sacrifices values important to his cultural heritage.

The film has a delightfully spontaneous home-movie quality - quite literally so, since it was lensed in Super 8mm on a budget of less than $10,000 (basically the cost of the film stock). Truly a one-of-a-kind experience, Perfumed Nightmare was the winner of the Berlin Film Festival International Critics Award in 1983 (six years after its completion, and wholly six years before its general distribution).


At 7:18 AM, Blogger Jeannette said...

I thoroughly enjoyed "Perfumed Nightmare." It's obvious that Kidlat Tahimik loves the Phillipines and is troubled by the partial loss of his countrymen's cultural identity and the gradual loss of craftsmanship of his people. While impressed with the technological advances and ingenuity of the west (specifically the space program), the filmmaker disapproves of mass commercialism.

His character in the film was highly influenced by western culture, but when he left the Phillipines and actually met some westerners and saw how the world was changing in favor of capitalism, he became disillusioned with the west.

I believe Kidlat was trying to show how his country has been influenced by the west in at least two areas. The US military left a number of jeeps behind when they left the Phillipines. The locals decorated the jeeps and used them as cabs. Repairs are made on the jeeps by hand and none of them are discarded, parts are reused when possible.

The other major influence portrayed was Catholicism. I'm protestant, so I'm no expert, but I felt that we were seeing rituals that infused Filipino culture with Catholicism.

The film uses a number of images as symbols and I'm not sure I understood all of them. Even though the film has a serious message, there are some humorous moments throughout.

If you get a chance to see the film, you should be sure to take it and watch it all the way through. I almost missed a nice touch at the end of the credits!


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