SBS has had a ‘festival’ of Latin American movies on their On-Demand service since 1 February 2021 and of course, I’m only watching them now that they are due to expire at the end of April. Obviously my ‘last minute’ film excursions apply just as much to movies on television as they do at the cinema.
On one level ‘Rey’ is the story Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, a French lawyer who went to South America, claiming in 1860 that the Mapuche natives had elected him ruler of Araucanía and Patagonia. He was arrested by the Chilean authorities, declared insane and sent back to France. He actually made several trips, trying to claim his kingdom, but each time he was sent back to France, where he died penniless. Check out the Wikipedia entry – what an incredible story!
This movie is really strange, and obviously the film-maker had a great time making it. It uses recovered, damaged film – bearing a close resemblance to Australia’s Ned Kelly movie- interspersed with fevered, dreamlike, hallucinogenic sequences. I found it quite unsettling, and almost scary in its sheer weirdness. It reminded me a bit of the Cabinet of Dr Caligari, or for an utterly banal pop reference, Julieta Venegas’ film clip for ‘Limon y Sal’.
You can read a review of the film by someone who knows what they were looking at here. It’s saying something about history, memory and colonialism but I’m not really sure quite what.