Saura's masterpiece weaves magic at IFFI

Saura's masterpiece weaves magic at IFFI

The King of all of the World

Unfortunately for the 52nd International Film Festival of India in Goa, Spanish master filmmaker Carlos Saura’s opening treat “The King of all of the World ---” took the hit when most of the gathered delegates at the prestigious world cinema jamboree missed out watching the film. The treat for the local audience was extraordinary.

The razmataz of the opening ceremony and the functions that followed left little opportunity for the august audience -- the festival delegates including visiting media --to enjoy Saura’s latest masterpiece that honoured the Goa festival by its debut screening. Nature too played its role as it rained incessantly through the evening.  

The programme started with endless thanksgiving, where everyone was thanking each other, typical of government organised shows. An important announcement followed with a single-window clearance facility for filmmakers keen to shoot in Goa was on offer. Veteran actor and BJP politician Hema Malini was awarded the Indian Personality of the Year.

Iconic filmmakers Istvan Szabo and Martin Scorsese were honoured with the "Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award" and both the masters of world cinema narrated their fabulous experiences about Ray and his works. This was projected entirely on screens through pre-recorded videos.

After this, the evening’s entertainment was staged, predictably with a bunch of Bollywood sing and dance performances, interrupted by some bad jokes for the breaks. Once that was over, the party shifted to Cidade de Goa, a beachfront luxury hotel in Panaji.

The film is the final part of Saura’s “Dance trilogy” where he tangos with cinematographer Vittrio Storaro, to make this theatrical, musical, romantic, violent saga on screen. ‘Carmen’ and ‘Tango’ are the primary two films of Saura’s dance trilogy.

"The King of all the World" is co-produced by Eusebio Pacha for Pipa Films with “Pacha Producciones e Inversiones Audiovisuales”, UDG Canal 44 and Commission de Filmaciones del Estado de Jalisco. The entire film shot in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

Cinematographer Vittorio Stroraro, a three-time Oscar winner, partnered with Saura for the seventh time to form this magnificent visual treat. The use of back projections, furthermore as walls made from paintings takes you to a special zone all at once. The utilization of warm tone within the intimate sequences and also the cold blue depicting icy pathos, accentuate the cinematic realm to a new level.

Manuel and Sarah choose Ines (Greta Elizondo), a fine looking young dancer from the outskirts of the national capital, to play the feminine lead. But it's soon revealed that her capricious father owes the mafia. The story unfurls. Saura introduces a hidden stream of violence that ends up in a doubly shocking climax. Powerful Mexican music sets the mood, creating a spectacle that mixes tragedy, fiction, and reality. Performance of the actors blended in such a way with the portrayal of characters that they are inseparable.

Set in modern-day Mexico, “The King of all of the World” also addresses the most important problem of our time: Violence. This theme runs through most Mexican fiction films, which is nearly institutional and catastrophic. 

Most of Saura’s films like Raise Ravens, Carmen – reflect on the fate of ladies in a very macho world. That machismo is slightly more subtle in “The King of All the planet,” but it still exists, reflecting the gender equation in Mexico. 

I have been watching Carlos Saura for quite a while now. Where he excels with “The King of all the World” compared to, say, “Carmen” is the skillful use of technology specific to his craft. With the employment of high-quality digital cameras, powerful projectors, recording live sound with wireless microphones on the shoot, Saura has transcended himself to a new height. 

It is a logo of artistic integrity and private conviction that cinematographic creators keep their thematic obsessions and lexical registers intact regardless of what proportion the world around them changes, remaining unfazed by trends or opportunism.

Saura and Storaro — authors so faithful to themselves that the twilight phases of their respective film bodies are impregnated with an anachronistic aura that's as unrepeatable because it is so tender. Such is the case with the career of a master of Spanish cinema, who premieres a chapter of an excellent cinematic endeavor, marked by interdisciplinary nature.

That Carlos Saura, and his new film, making its international premiere at the 52nd IFFI, Goa, 2021, is sort of a press release. “The King of all the World” is a romantic drama of an eminently theatrical and musical nature with an undertone of violence.

(The writer is a filmmaker with a keen interest in critical appreciation of films).

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