Arrebato


Arrebato
Rapture (1980)
   No Spanish film as marginal as Arrebato has ever had a comparable impact. Director Iván Zulueta wrote the script from an early version by Augusto M. Torres and Antonio Gasset, which was so completely reworked that both writers have given up any claim at authorship. The initial idea was to produce a short feature along the lines of Zulueta's previous Leo Is Pardo (Leo Is Brown), which had premiered successfully at the Berlin Film Festival. But as he worked on the new piece, the director became more and more involved, including elements that came from his personal experience. Shot on a shoestring budget with reduced personnel and in only four locations, the film was completed in 1980 and opened to critical indifference or hostility. In a few weeks, it was withdrawn from cinemas. The filmmakers's hopes to enter it for either Cannes or Berlin had also been dashed when the programmers in both festivals expressed doubts about the film's alleged pro-heroin stance, and everybody connected with Arrebato resigned themselves to the disappearance of the film from exhibition circuits. It quickly achieved a reputation through word of mouth as a notorious film maudit and, by 1981, it had already reached legendary status. Assorted audiences were captivated by this unusual mix of horror, vampirism, cinephilia, homoeroticism, and, particularly, heroin-fueled hallucination, which were felt to be relevant to that particular period of Spanish history, particularly with the Madrid movida crowd.
   he central story is about cynical José Sirgado (Eusebio Poncela) who has just finished shooting a horror film. As he returns home after a long absence, he finds two surprises. The first is decidedly unwel-come: his ex-girlfriend Ana (Cecilia Roth), a heroin addict like him, is back in the flat. The second is an intriguing tape and some rolls of film sent by an old acquaintance: Pedro (Will More), an infantile man obsessed with shooting film, who tells him in the tape of an extraordinary recent experience. A large section of the plot consists of flashbacks: how the two men met, were fascinated by each other and, maybe, had an affair that displaced Ana from José's affections. The tape tells José how, after their last meeting, Pedro moved to Madrid and was sucked into a life of sex and drugs that left him dissatisfied, only to return more obsessively than ever to his film habit. Experimenting with captured images, Pedro begins to suspect that his Super-8 camera has a life of its own and that it behaves as a vampire, taking something from him but also sending him into a state of ecstasy. As the tape ends, Pedro is about to have a final experience and asks José to visit him and collect the tape. In the film's finale, José goes to the flat and engages in the same relationship with the camera, which ends up devouring him.
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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