Fire at Sea ★★★★½

MIDNIGHT SUN FILM FESTIVAL 2016, film #20

Contrasts create the shock that this film is. And I have been using the word "shock" with this festival a lot since it definitely has been more or less shocking. But the shock that this film is, is rather different to Psycho. Here we actually see dead bodies and explore the cold tranquility that must be maintained while facing the death itself. This cold tranquility indeed is extremely freezing compared to the emotional charge of the images but it tells its own stories about the duty and responsibility. But on the other hand this also reveals our own relationship to this crisis - how we react to the people who react very coldly (because they must, we shouldn't forget that but if the viewer is under strong emotions, it could be forgotten). What the film revealed to me was how I reacted to all of this - it told about me and it already in itself tells how we, humans, process such things. We think about ourselves because only through our own experience can we understand what is going around us. This film tells everything based on "how you react". It has created its own ways to reflect the crisis and asks us to start our own self-reflection.

Rosi portrays young boy from the island of Lampedusa who plays around while at the same time acting a bit older than he is. He listens to the stories of his grandparents and the stories compare to the images we see from the crisis in order to make us understand how history repeats itself. It feels as if something is happening somewhere far away - to an ordinary European, this crisis that these refugees experience is as far as the second world war: still both things do exist. The sea means dreams to the boy but at the same time it is nightmare to the refugees. Rosi portrays the island and then he portrays the sea where refugees float on their boats. This contrast creates room for countless nuances, emotions and reflections. The film isn't going to be the same to any of us. The film has chosen hard duty but it isn't at all hyperbole: this film defines how we are going to continue our lives on this era. It doesn't shy away from these dark subjects but goes to the center of European life and at the same time to the lives of those who are searching for something better. It reveals the conflicts and throws us like the sea throws the people who somehow digress close to it.

So what then? Should we be happy that we have what we have? Should we join the struggle? Should we close our hearts? The question is: what should we do? This is a film that continues the tradition of neorealism - it is partly staged, partly documented but very closely attached to the tradition of what made Italian cinema great in the first place. In the traditions that make today's cinema great in the first place. It is extremely hard to continue after a film like this...