Movie Review: 'Blanco En Blanco

John Thomas

Across the forbidding icy-blue landscape a small group of men struggle to reach an isolated dwelling somewhere in Terra del Fuego (Fucco), Chile. Inclement weather conditions make their progress painfully slow, but eventually the men reach their destination. They have been guiding the photographer Pedro (Alfredo Castro) to his new assignment. He is to photograph a wedding ceremony planned to take place sometime in the near future. Once inside, Pedro finds the house as bleak and foreboding as are the  miles of empty fields surrounding it.

The prospective groom, a successful land-owner/business man, is too occupied to sit for a photograph, but the bride-to-be isn’t. It is a hesitant, obedient child dressed in a wedding gown who appears before Pedro in the dark parlor of this cavernous house. Pedro is quite taken by her beauty and perhaps also by her naive compliance as he adjusts her pose and gown for the first photographs. He sends these photographs and later, others to the groom-to-be for his approval. Some of them appear to go beyond usual wedding poses. He continues to photograph the young girl.

Pedro finally meets his client who offers to pay him half his fee, with the balance due after the wedding. As there is still no planned wedding date, Pedro busies himself taking photographs of still lifes and landscapes and making an attempt to blend in with the ranch’s mostly masculine community. The seasons have changed; the snow is gone but the barrenness of the area hasn’t. The client’s attitude towards Pedro has also changed, Pedro must now work for his board and keep. Quite proud of the advances he is making in bringing progress, industry and prosperity to Terra del Fuego, the man commissions Pedro to record this growth and development in photographs.

The photographer feels trapped. He can’t leave without the other half of his commission, there is no date for the wedding and he now has to pay for his living arrangements. He feels as much an indentured worker as those members of the Selk’nan tribe whose numbers are  diminishing as they work on the developments taking place in their homeland. The prosperous land owner/businessman seems only concerned with documenting the progress he is making towards his own goals of bringing himself and his emerging country forward.

Through Pedro, Théo Court shows the history of this troubled period in Chilean history. He has done so with an inquiring mind, compassionate heart and artistic eye. Unfortunately, history tends to repeat itself.

Directed by Théo Court (Credits:  Ocasco, Venice Film Festival 76 Winner,  Horizons – Best Director) Blanco En Blanco runs 100 minutes.


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