Leon and Olvido By Andrzej Werner

in 7th Tbilisi International Film Festival

by Andrzej Werner

There is a place in Leon and Olvido (León y Olvido) which attracts our special attention. We visit it twice: once at the beginning of the film, the second time at the end. A splendid place with blossoming flowers, shining sun, blue sea glistening down: we are on the edge of a rock which falls abruptly. But there is no sign of danger: here the nature embodies its own innocence.

In this idyllic place a pretty young girl tries to kill her brother. A perfectly normal girl, with no visible defects of character, who works very hard after the death of their parents, often, yet not always warm and protective towards her twin brother. But this brother kills any chance of life for her. She wants nothing special: only to live life in its broadest sense, with everything that this means to a young woman.

Handicapped with Down’s syndrome Leon is of course unable to live on his own. He is, however, well prepared to live with his illness — as this is commonly understood — but he rejects any possibility then to live in deep symbiosis with Olvido. He is physically and mentally so attached to his sister that the outside world has no essential values and meanings. This attachment is deeply sexual. Being suppressed it does not lead to any direct attempts, but it is psychologically very difficult for the young girl. I really admire the seriousness with which Xavier Bermudez observes the problems of the handicapped boy. Not only his sexuality but his whole attitude towards life.

There have been many films portraying the life of handicapped people. Usually they try to persuade us, that their heroes are human beings like others, even with some special capacities unknown to ‘normal’ people. In this Spanish film there is not any shadow of such ‘social didactic’, any shadow of questioning Leon’s human dignity. He simply is; not only his existence, but his entity as a human being is beyond all speculation: beyond queries as beyond admiration.

Neither is there is any evaluation of the attitude of the girl. The situation between them cannot be solved. The place I mentioned above provokes us to think of experience and to feel the Greek tragedy. On the opposite sides of this balance lie his and her lives.

This film by Xavier Bermudes, beautifully photographed and directed, with all movements and turns of camera perfectly justified, touches us deeply.