Political Film Society - Newsletter #256 - August 1, 2006

August 1, 2006


The Celestine ProphecyThe Celestine Prophecy, directed by Armand Mastroianinni, is based on the New Age book by James Redfield. John (played by Matthew Settle) has just been laid off as a schoolteacher due to lack of funds in his school district, so he has time on his hands. A friend tips him off that there is something extraordinary in the Peruvian rainforest—a recent discovery at Vicientia of ancient scrolls that speak to the modern day. When John arrives in Lima (filming is actually in Florida and Puerto Rico), he finds that the government, in cahoots with the Catholic Cardinal Sebastian (played by Hector Elizondo), feels threatened by the discovery. A Catholic priest sympathetic to the message in the scrolls, Father José (played by Castulo Guerra), is killed shortly after John’s arrival. John then flees for his life down streets of a strange city. Spotted by Wil (played by Thomas Kretschmann), he is given shelter from the pursuit. Wil decides to go to Vicientia, a colony of believers in the prophecy, to take refuge in order to avoid his own likely arrest. John goes along and begins to learn about the prophecy, which is contained on scrolls dating from 65 BC. Far too many conversations ensue about the scrolls, without supplying much content about the prophecy, so filmviewers will doubtless become impatient to learn the message. Rebels are also featured from time to time, but not their specific complaints about government misrule. The only principle revealed early in the film is that people should no longer try to impose their ways on others, as in so doing they take energy from them. At the end of the film, the government destroys Vicientia, imprisons members of the colony, and the nine prophecies appear as short titles (from much longer scrolls!) that appear on the screen after the last action in the film. The nine prophecies are basically Buddhist, but are interpreted to argue that human evolution awaits acceptance of the principle that everyone should give support (energy) to everyone else, whereupon the human race can be uplifted to a nirvana that will ease the transition to heaven. MH


Heading SouthHeading South (Vers le sud), directed by Laurent Cantet, takes place in Haiti (the actual filming is in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti) during the late 1970s at a beach resort where the principal guests are frustrated single White women, who want pure sex with gentle and passionate young Black men, whose poverty drives them to service them. Most of the focus is on 48-year-old Brenda (played by Karen Young), who arrives later than the rest and quickly falls in love with skinny teenage Legpa (played by Ménothy Cesar); she experienced her first orgasm with him three years earlier and is now desperately in love with him. But Ellen (played by Charlotte Rampling), a 55-year-old Wellesley professor, scolds Brenda for falling in love, as everyone else is there for sex and not for emotional melodrama, though she wants him for herself. One day, however, Legpa is pursued by an older Black man. He flees from the resort, returns to his mother to give her all the money that he has been paid, visits a Black girlfriend, and his dead body is found the following morning along with another young Black boy. Filmviewers may conclude that the Black girlfriend was off limits, perhaps the daughter of someone important in Haiti who does not want a bisexual stud to complicate his political or social life. The White women, meanwhile, are thereby warned that they may be playing with fire by treating the young Haitians as callboys. Brenda decides to return to her hometown of Savannah, shattered by the experience, but unconcerned along with the rest of the women that they are shattering the lives of their courtesans by enriching them, as the resort’s waiter, Albert (played by Lys Ambroise), whose father fought the Americans during the occupation in 1915, well knows. MH

The annual membership meeting of the Political Film Society will take place on Saturday, August 19, from 11 a.m., at 8481 Allenwood Road, Los Angeles, CA.