The Wind Journeys (Spanish: Los viajes del viento)
A thank you to the eclectic Lotusreads for telling me about this movie!.
What do you think of when you think of Colombia? Drug Lords? The right wing revolutionaries?
Set aside all those notions that one may form about a country by the woefully inadequate stuff that we in the US often get packaged as "news".
"The Wind Journeys" by director Ciro Guerra depicts a different Colombia, one of people living in small villages and eking out a simple existence, with music forming an important part of their lives.
Yes, this is a movie about music to some extent, but it is also more than that. It is road trip, one that happens largely in silence (or as one would say nothing much happens for periods of the movie), about the young and the old, and about ones purpose in life.
The film follows the laconic Ignacio Carrillo (Marciano Martínez), who has recently lost his wife and believes that it is due to the horned accordion he plays, which is cursed by the devil and must be returned to his master and maker Guerra. Accompanying Ignacio, and often a subject of his disdain is the teen aged Fermin (Yull Nunez) from the same village, who wants to learn from Ignacio and become a famous troubadour and accordion player like him.
Their journey is largely in silence (the film has no background score save for the music played by performers in the movie), Ignacio on the back of a donkey and Fermin on foot from Sucre in Colombia to Caserio Taroa in the La Guajira desert on the norther tip of Colombia.
Along their journeys Ignacio and Fermin encounter a cast of sometimes strange, oddball characters including Ignacio's brother and a woman at a small festival in a town along the way, where Ignacio plays an improvised tune, a homage of sorts to what is an old flame, throwing Fermin accompanying him on the drums into a complete tizzy about what he has to play.
There is also one scene that I found particularly compelling, a duel on accordions that reminded me of the Jugalbandi from Indian classical music or even the rap duels from films like 8 Mile.
There were two ways that I looked at the movie (and not because I saw it over two days in two parts), one in which despite the beautiful vistas not much seems to happen for stretches. Mind you the vistas are beautiful, with the gorgeous photography brings to life whether it is the lush green forests, grasslands, the rugged mountains, rivers, or the bare desert or stunningly white salt flats. They are all a joy to behold, but I digress.
The second way that I looked at the movie is the way I see it now. The silence is not just between the principals in the movie, it is also for us the viewer to think about what is said and left unsaid. The fact that it is beautifully acted, makes Ignacio and Fermin all the more human and appealing in their own ways.
It is a journey about about disappointments, hopes about losing and finding and about moving on, about the passing of the torch of sorts of traditions that are unwritten, but carried down thru generations.
This is in some ways a strange movie, but one well worth your time if you have a couple of hours to spare, where the lack of action on the screen or a traditional plot progression is not essentially a bad thing, for there is after all something to be gleaned about a journey on a road to understanding.