Friday, February 25, 2011

An angry poet

In Woody Allen's film Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), there is a very interesting scene (funny or serious? You decide) with a Spanish poet.

Juan (Javier Bardem) takes Vicky (Rebecca Hall) to meet his old father who lives all alone in a secluded house. When Vicky gets introduced to him, Juan tells her that his old man speaks only Spanish. "He is a poet," he says, stepping inside the house. "He believes that speaking in any other language will pollute his tongue."

Vicky is impressed with the old poet's attitude to maintain the purity of his tongue. She wants to read his work. "But he does not publish," Juan says.


"I'll explain to you later."

Vicky is perplexed. She can's understand why a poet like him would write the most beautiful lines in Spanish and then deny them to the world. By the way, Flaubert once wrote how nice it would be if an author's works could be published only after he was dead (that too only in a collected edition!).

In the next scene, we see Vicky and Juan walking in the compound of the house. "So, why doesn't your father publish his work?" Vicky asks him. "Why is he angry with the world?"

Juan says, "He is angry with the world because even after thousands of years of civilization, the world has not learned to love."


I loved this conversation in the film. The world has not learned to love. How true is that! This is serious humour. Like Tolstoy, Woody Allen reminds us that love is all we have in the world and yet we choose unhappiness (caused by pursuit of vanity or material things).

Love could be transient, true. The trick, as Juan says in the film, is to enjoy life, accepting it has no meaning whatsoever.

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