Friday, January 18, 2008

Love in the time of Cholera - Movie

The novel " Love in the time of Cholera" was the first book of Gabriel Garcia Marquez I read. At that time, I did not know that he had won Nobel prize or that he was one of the greatest Latin American writers. I had picked up the book at a random browsing in a NewYork bookshop by sheer instinct. The title was intriguing. When I started reading, I could not stop. It was so absorbing and powerful. This great romantic story transported me to a new world..literally...the new world of Latin America. And that was how I got interested in Latin American authors and in Latin America.

So, the novel has a special significance for me as an inspiration which lead me to become "Passionate about Latin America". The passion has remained as enduring and inolvidable as Florentino's passion for Fermina.

Against the above background, I was a bit apprehensive that this English film of a Latino story and that too by Hollywood might not do justice to a great writer and story from Colombia and might reduce the great impact made on me by the book. And the reviews of the film in Argentine media were unfavourable.

With hesitation, I went to see the movie yesterday, the first day of its release in Argentina. It was released in USA in November 2007.

Hmmm... I liked the film and enjoyed it. It not only rekindled the romantic feelings generated by the book ten years back but also gave a visual dimension of enjoyment to my treasued memory of the book. The last scene in which Florentino, the hero, sails on River Magdalena with Fermina and his command to the captain of the ship to hoist the black flag ( to announce cholera in the ship - in those days) so that his love moments can go on uninterrupted is very touching.

The story is about Florentino's long wait of over fifty years to regain the heart of his beloved Fermina. The young Florentino falls in love with her at first sight and writes letters and poems to her. After initially encouraging him and responding to him, she turns him down due to pressure from her father and her own female whim. She gets married to a doctor, has the usual married life of ups and downs and reaches the age of over seventy. But he does not give up. He waits year after year with full-blooded love for her, undiminshed by time. Of course, his body lets itself indulge in carnal unions with over 600 women.. and he keeps count and an annotated diary. When Fermina's husband dies, he comes to her house on the day of the funeral. He reiterates his love saying he was waiting for that day. The 72 year-old widow shouts at at him to get out of her life. But he is persistent untill she relents. And he takes her on a cruise in the River Magdalena to celebrate the fulfillment of his passion after having waited for a life time. There, the two hearts are reunited and reignited. And the two old bodies even make love.

Javier Bardem, the Spanish actor has superbly acted as Florentino while Giovanna Mezzogiorno, the Italian actress has portrayed the role of Fermina truthfully.

Shakira, the Colombian singer has lent her voice to the background songs which go harmoniously with the mood and flow of the story taking place in Cartagena in Colombia.

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