by Mariann Kun-Szabo, contributing blogger
“There is no formal search without argument, and there is no argument without formal search.” (EscribiendoCine) This is how the director, Martin Solá described the main message of his second documentary, The Messenger.
Rodrigo lives in a little village in the region of La Puna and works as a messenger, who carries messages between villages. This is a quiet and calm environment, where people feel protected by religion. One day Rodrigo decides to change his job and travels to the salt mines far from home.
The documentary follows the journey of Rodrigo from outside, in black and white. This is a journey from a village to a salt mine, but is also a transformation inside Rodrigo. The title of the film, Messenger, can refer to the linkage and contrast between the spiritual and material worlds. Rodrigo is a religious man who is entering the material world when going to the salt mines to save up some money. As the messenger of the spiritual values, he gets new impulses from outside which slowly stir up his world. The inner fight is projected with sharp changes between black and white, as well as changes between quiet and loud scenes.
The contrast between spiritual and material worlds are broadcasted with the elements of the sky and the land. First we see a scene where clouds are flying under for long minutes, then in another long pause we watch the abandoned salt mines and dazzling sun. A storm, however, brings the final redemption and the world re-balances. At the end we can only see mackerel-sky everywhere: up in the air and their reflection on the watery lands.
Sharp shifts and contrasts characterize the whole documentary. The filmmakers play with the light-shadow settings masterfully. Many times it feels like watching a photo album with the extended pictures, as the film has no tangible story. The emphasis is unequivocally on the visual effects. It is hard to define the meaning behind the scenes, as they do not connect directly, and there is only a few dialogues with basic information. For those who want the usual film packed with quickly changing actions, I do not recommend this documentary. It is for those who do not want to take things for granted, but want to feel the experience of search and argument, and want to translate it to their own langauge.
Read the interview with the director: