Post Tenebras Lux – Patrick Brian Smith

Still from Post Tenebras Lux

The Quest for the Bevel

“A bevelled edge refers to an edge of a structure that is not perpendicular to the faces of the piece.” Good old Wikipedia, providing perhaps the most succinct analysis of the thematic and visual dualities that are intrinsic to Post Tenebras Lux.

Much like Peter Taylor’s “Post Tenebras Googling” for Ballesteros, I also jumped online after the credits to find out how Reygadas crafted these refracted and distorted exterior shots. Searching went something like “Post Tenebras Lux Lense//Post Tenebras Lux Double Exposure//Post Tenebras Lux 1:33 Distortion.” My enquiry ended pretty abruptly when I stumbled on an interview with Reygadas, where he claimed to have shot the film with “a unique lens, without a name” bevelled at the edges. Mystery it seemed was seeping out of the film itself post-Post Tenebras Lux.

This mysterious bevelled lense used by Reygadas dominates almost all of the films exterior shots, contrasting then with the familial interactions that take place between Juan and his family, and concomitantly lending the latter group of images a flattened texture. Within many of these exterior shots, as characters move towards the edge of the 1:33 frame, they become refracted by the bevelling- distorting their appearance, morphing their limbs, and occasionally creating a shadow of themselves.

Why then the removal of the bevelled lense for interiors? It’s easy perhaps to suggest that the bevelling lends the image an aesthetic nicety, and given Reygada’s preoccupation with the natural world he is simply offering a beautification of this in his “nature dominant” exterior shots. Perhaps easier still is the suggestion that the bevelled refraction functions better in wider shots, not suited to tighter framing within interior locations. Indeed we can even more easily suggest that Reygadas is setting in motion a dialectical relationship between the beauty and horror of nature and domesticity respectively.

Though perhaps the reason is more simple than all these. Perhaps Juan’s character can be understood as intrinsically bevelled. The edges of his being, his extremes of violence and addiction, do not match the domestication he strives for- the edges of Juan’s character are not perpendicular to his flattened outward projection of harmoniousness- they are bevelled, he is bevelled, and ultimately this is what destroys him. Within these interior domestic interactions, the visual bevel is replace by a human, bevelled. Through Post Tenebras Lux the edges of Juan’s character fall away, bevelled into oblivion.

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Patrick Brian Smith is an MA Film Studies graduate from King’s College London and film critic for The Quietus. “Thanks go to Katie Smith, her photography knowledge pointed me in the bevel direction.”

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“Singing Neil Young can be really hard.”

“A lot of people say I destroy him!” Lead actress Nathalia Acevedo discusses the challenges faced when performing Neil Young’s It’s A Dream in a pivotal scene in Post Tenebras Lux.

And for those who want to sing along themselves…

Post Tenebras Lux – Paul Ridd

Still image from Post Tenebras Lux

i can’t write about post tenebras lux

i’m all like, cramming into a packed little festival screening room at 9AM on three hours sleep

i’m all like, crying in the first eight minutes when all we see are wind-swept vistas and shots of a child playing amongst cattle

but I didn’t like, understand why i felt like that, you know?

i’m telling you how like, the imagery and sounds aroused in me this feeling that somehow if i could just say what it was I was feeling, if I just, like, thought about it hard enough, but I just, like, can’t

i’m like staggering onto the street at the film’s finish, taking these thick drags of cigarette, trying to compose myself and say anything like REMOTELY coherent about the whole fucking beautiful thing

and i was like, ‘me too. yes yes. I have felt bored with lovers, wanted to hit dogs, wanted to pull my head off, wanted to take part in a rugby game despite my frame, wanted to take down the hegemonic power structures driven by heterosexual monogamous reproductive unions, money, boredom and a feeling that if we just, you know, like

and if we could just like, look at the trees once in a while maybe before like tearing them down and stop like, counting money, we could all be like ‘we’re in this together, they’re individuals, we have a team.’ you see?

then maybe having children wouldn’t be so fucking depressing and we wouldn’t have to sit about like, warbling neil young and feeling sad about everything

but I’m like, is it actually about anything? it certainly looks good

and i’m all like ‘it really fucks me off when all the critics pan it for being difficult to understand’

but, like, it is.

so if you’re all like ‘well if you like it so much, why don’t you write something about it?’

i’m like, ‘how?’

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Paul Ridd is programmer and acquisitions coordinator at Picturehouse Cinemas.

“I want to clarify this thing about the Devil…” Carlos Reygadas video interview

In the fifth of a series of short video interviews with director Carlos Reygadas about Post Tenebras Lux, the director talks about evil, conceptualisation and the inevitable loss of innocence.

Post Tenebras Lux – Simon Ward

Still image from Post Tenebras Lux

Like Seven and Juan, I’m here in this rundown hut, to confess to my own guilty addiction. Like Juan’s internet porn problem, my addiction is rather more prosaic than Seven’s drug problem. Like Juan, I am fortunate to be born into an existence where I don’t have to worry about having enough to eat (instead I worry about eating too much), don’t have to concern myself about being beheaded or kidnapped on a daily basis (contrary to what most Londoners who never venture south of the river might think) and have come to terms with my colonial past as a half-Protestant from the Republic of Ireland. Like Juan, I’m a little embarrassed by the nature of my addiction. It’s clearly a privileged 1st World Fear. Like Juan, I’m not a big fan of Juan the man as a human being – so I’m going to stop comparing myself to him now and zero in on addiction. I don’t like Juan.

My addiction, I confess to you, is a compulsion to consume cinema. I want cinema to overwhelm me, to light up parts of me I didn’t know existed, to force me to confront the ugly and take me by the hand towards the sublime. Cinema feeds my compulsion without regard to life outside my head. It is art, entertainment, form, social comment, narrative and non-narrative pleasure. Cinema is at once stimulation, idea, comfort, seducer and consumer. Cinema is both transcendental experience and smutty joke. Cinema for me is as varied, mundane, banal and surprising as life. Hell, cinemas IS life. Seven might think it’s generally rather more comfortable than his life, and I’d be hard pushed to argue the point. I guess I’m lucky. I know I am. But I’m still addicted.

It’s taken over my life. My wife and I met through cinema. My friends are almost entirely connected in one way or another to cinema. My adult education is cinema. My daughters had better love cinema or watch out! My working life is completely dominated by cinema. Take cinema away from me and I wonder what could possibly ever fill the hole.

My father once accused my obsessive teen-love of cinema as being ‘mental masturbation’. He’s a psychiatrist so I would forgive you for thinking he knew of what he spoke. He went on to elaborate how my constant fevered consumption of film was merely getting off on second-hand emotion. That’ll be the thing called Art I thought to myself.  In retrospect I think he just wanted me to get out of the house more.

He was only half right. I get agitated when I see a powerful film and can’t rest until I have found a way to possess it once again and more permanently in my DVD collection (although I prefer the more professional sounding word ‘archive’ as it sounds less nerdy. Or does it? I’ve lost perspective). I can hear Marx breathing disapprovingly down my neck.

A film like Post Tenebras Lux makes me want to share my addiction. Juan comes to this room in the still above to somehow integrate with people from a completely different walk of life. Agendas may be different, but whatever the reasons, this surely is also what cinema does? It gives us all a place to meet, talk, experience and above all confess.

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Simon Ward is deputy director at the Independent Cinema Office.

“The film comes from direct experience of life.” Video interview with Carlos Reygadas

“Dreams are not part of the fantastic. They are part of reality.” In the fourth of a series of short video interviews with director Carlos Reygadas about Post Tenebras Lux, the director talks dreams, rugby and decapitation.