Finisterrae (2010)

Wow. Absolutely not what I expected to see. Kino Engel in Helsinki hosts an annual Night Visions film festival, ”the biggest and the (b)oldest horror, fantasy and cult film focused event” and Finisterrae was our pick of the evening. The film is essentially a journey of two ghosts trying to become alive by travelling along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route in Spain. Finisterrae is a Spanish production by Sergio Caballero Lecha, so the first thing you do not expect is for the entire dialogue to be in Russian and the ghosts being two actors under white sheets* with black ovals for eyes. The experience kind of went downhill from there.

The events made no sense, and some scenes seemed to be from a hobby project of a couple of fifteen-year old boys (opera-singing German hippie shaman woman in scant clothing?) and 80 minutes of almost complete randomness would have been a truly painful experience if it wasn’t for the visuals. The film would have benefited from a complete removal of the dialogue (somewhat reminiscent of the more laconic scenes from the Yellow Submarine**). Some of the scenes and shots were pure poetry, mysterious, beautifully surreal. The score (by composer Jimi Tenor) in the first ten minutes of the film is beautiful and builds expectations for a wonderful auditory experience, if nothing else. However, this part of the score was finished before the filming; it was clear more time and effort had been put into it. The rest of the music pretty much falls flat. Just like the film itself.

I think the story has lots of potential, and I would love to see it remade with actual philosophic thought and a sense of narrative; it would also work wonderfully as an animation film. I would love Studio Ghibli to make an artsy animation with it. There were scenes which made the audience burst out laughing. Some such moments were clearly unintentional, but there were a few moments of pure comedy. All in all? I was caught off guard. I think I would have enjoyed Finisterrae more if I was expecting to see an art film. As such, it settles uncomfortably between a fantasy film and an art film, succeeding at neither. But, kudos to the cinematographer Eduard Grau and the (director/writer/)art director Sergio Caballero Lecha for the beautiful visuals, which probably stay with me far longer than I care to remember the rest of the film for.

Also, the name of the film is clearly Finisterrae, but in the film the target destination of the ghosts is consistently called Finterrae. Why?

* Well, OK, the poster was a hint.
** Otherwise bears no resemblance to the fantastic 1960s animation film.


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