Mario: "How do you become a poet?"
Neruda: "Try and walk slowly along the shore as far as the bay and look around you.."
Mario: "And will they come to me, those metaphors?"
This is one of the most beautiful exchanges in the movie between the simple Italian coastal villager and the famous poet Don Pablo Neruda.
I have taken a fancy to the "International movies" section in a few shops and that is where I happened to pick this one. I must admit that whenever I buy something like this, I have high expectations and sit down to see these movies with an intention to like them and enjoy them for what they offer. So far, I have succeeded!
Coming to this particular movie, the novelty of the story caught my eye. I am somebody who gets smitten by the cover of a book or a DVD and if my instinct tells me it would be good, I would go for it. I have heard of Pablo Neruda but after seeing this movie, I am hunting online for his poems.
The movie is a sublime gem - lyrical in its setting near a coast and in its background score and beautiful because so much is so deftly understated and conveyed brilliantly. As the Wiki entry says, it is a fictionalized account of Neruda in exile for a brief time in Italy when his communist affiliation drove him out of his land of birth -
"His 1952 stay in a villa owned by Italian historian Edwin Cerio on the island of Capri was fictionalized in the popular film Il Postino ("The Postman", 1994)."
The story is simple - a villager who is unemployed gets the job of delivering mail to the famous poet. Slowly, he strikes up a conversation with the genius about poetry and metaphors. As he gets lovestruck by a local beauty, he asks the poet for help to woo the damsel. Neruda's love poems do the trick. The hallmark of the movie is the friendship that evolves slowly between the postman and the poet, their exchanges on poetry and love. The Italian youth hero-worships the poet and even decides to name his child after him.
Some scenes stand out - when he reads poetry to his love, the delight in his lover and when Neruda leaves the village, the moment of departure. Never too dramatic and the waves always forming a backdrop, this movie is something that admirers of elegance and finesse shouldn't miss!
Some lines from Neruda's 'Tonight I write' -I loved these!
"My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her."
How true it is when Neruda says in the movie: "When you explain it, poetry becomes banal. Better than any explanation is the experience of feeling things that poetry can reveal to a nature open enough to understand it." A collection of some of his poems are available here. The movie had some references to this poem - Walking around.