The Heart Of The Volcano

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Heart Of The Volcano
"Fee Strothman's camera is somewhere between the dreamlike and the documentary."

Is it a map? Art? A ritual? A forest? A maze? It sits before us on the screen and then the words of the title, angular, minimal, capital. EL CORAZÓN DEL VOLCÁN.

She looks up at it. Peak wreathed in smoke or cloud. She tends to her father, fingers and hankerchief black from coughing. "The land is dying too". His hair is grey with age not ash but the fire is near. Lava stretches and cools, a web woven of stone. In the firelight, reborn, the magician appears.

There was a deal. It is not a favourable one, nor between equals. His suit is black and tailored, all polish and press against the rough and homespun of their house. The father has signed it, and, the sorcerer assures, in time, the daughter will too.

Footsteps in the sand, a claw upon the hand, the gourd's sweet draught among the dried grass stand. Tendrils of vapour reach towards their solid kin, the ice upon the mountain spared for now by fires within. WHat ritual by the fire, as the flame dances ever higher? What lurks within the dark? She calls for aid, but who shall hark?

The volcano is the ground, the sky above. The land is as sick as the father but will either be well? Up those vertiginous slopes angles the empty sky. The gift of the volcano is a black magic, sharper than a bird's beak. Who are these wretches, how are they spared? What does it mean to hold someone's heart?

Montserrat Cattaneo's film does so much with light, its blossom, its bloom, the catch of fire and the lick of flame. Devils may have forked tongues but men in suits with honeyed words have left more ash in their wake. The volcano if it chooses may blot out the heavens, blacken the earth, let roll across the land thunder too loud to hear. Men can choose not to.

Fee Strothman's camera is somewhere between the dreamlike and the documentary. Over the credits more of those raw rocky portraits, eyes blinking in geologic time, irises drawn from far above, pupils ploughed in the red loam. Gaze close enough and they will blink back, meaning from textures unscaled, unknown. At one point in the credits the eye will trick you into seeing rocks slide, it is the movement of words across a background. Has the volcano spoken, or was it imagined? That is not the only question.

The cast of three, Xochitl Galindres, Humberto Yanez, Miguel Cooper. Between them words and gestures, and alone their gestures and ways. This is a story told that explains why the valley runs this way and not that. Why the field that flowers is fond of flooding. Why the heart of the volcano cannot be beat.

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2021
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Their fate in the hands of a powerful sorcerer, by the next moon a daughter must save her father's soul.

Director: Montserrat Cattaneo

Starring: Xochitl Galindres, Humberto Yanez, Miguel Cooper

Year: 2020

Runtime: 2020 minutes

Country: Germany, Mexico

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