Fire Will Come (O que arde)
While Fire Will Come may be difficult to parse on first glance – so specific is its milieu and so ambiguous is its storytelling – it’s nonetheless a haunting experience. Spanish director Oliver Laxe has the ability to conjure up gorgeous, terrifying images, and he starts with a stunner of a sequence: a forest at night, lights darting across trees that suddenly start collapsing. A herd of construction vehicles roar into view, tearing down everything in their path, until they stop before a huge, gnarled oak.
A character later in the film shelters underneath that same tree, but its importance is otherwise mysterious. As are the reasons why Amador (Amador Arias Mon) decided, many years ago, to become a pyromaniac. He’s recently been released from prison, and he returns home to the farm belonging to his mother (Benedicta Sánchez). He’s not the most talkative guy in the world – he isolates himself from the local community, tending to the cows and walking his dog. His only real discussions are with his mother, about whether they should try and attract tourists to their village for some extra money.
If there’s an overarching subject, then it’s probably the onset of modernism. On his treks through the wilderness, a car sometimes appears, and the dog barks at it. The lovely shots of fog rolling through empty hills will likely become impossible to replicate as civilization spreads and land is sold to corporate interests. Though Laxe balances this with a discussion of an ancient bell that’s been replaced at a cultural capital. Some think the new bell doesn’t emit the same sound – Amador says it sounds the same.
So what to make of the awe-inspiring sequence of a massive forest fire? Is it a metaphor for the sacrifices necessary for modernity to prosper? Or is it less clear-cut than that? Whatever the case, Laxe’s uncompromising vision is difficult to shake.
Fire Will Come (O que arde) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
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Watch clips from Fire Will Come (O que arde) here: