EL CORAZONE DE LA MEMORIA
(Heart of the Memory)
Directed by Brian Clement
Ronan O'Malley - Nick Sheehan
Elke Baumann - Sabrina Keulner
Angela Davies - Claire Westby
EL CORAZON DE LE MEMORIA is one of the most ambitious micro-budget productions I've seen in sometime. There are no zombies, vampires, stalkers, or genre elements of any kind. Instead, what you do have is good, old-fashioned epic story telling from Director Brian Clement.
The film is an anthology of loosely connected, but expertly woven, stories dealing with various themes of oppression and the struggle for human rights and freedoms.
The film opens near the turn of the century in Winnipeg, Canada where we meet the O'Malley family. The city is in turmoil as the workers are on strike for better working conditions and the factories are bringing in scab labor to man the facilities. The factory owners are also intensifying the conflict by bringing in strikebreakers to beat those that join the picket lines.
Young Ronan O'Malley is told by his father that if anything happens to him, the boy will be sent back to Ireland to live his uncle.
Flash forward 20 years and Ronan is grown up and joining the foreign legion during the Spanish Civil War. Having learned first hand what fascism can do, Ronan has dedicated his life to fighting oppression. Following his father's footsteps, Ronan is passionate enough to carry his beliefs with him to the grave.
From the Spanish Civil War the timeline jumps ahead to 1960's Berlin. Elke Baumann is a young woman imprisoned for a crime she didn't commit. She's interrogated and tortured in an effort to force her to sign a false confession. Being a woman of strength, she resists as long as she can, often turning the tables and pointing the finger towards the German officer assigned to bring about her confession. At the risk of his own life, Elke is rescued by a double agent that takes her over the Berlin Wall.
These three stories are intertwined with the story of Angela Davies, a woman in the not-to-distant future on a quest to find the strength to follow her own convictions in a world torn apart by unrest.
It might seem like an odd choice to juxtapose historical facts with futuristic fiction, but the film is one of hope. Only from these lessons of sacrifice can we salvage the future from corporate and political corruption.
When Clement sent me this film, he prefaced it with a note stating the first 10 minutes might seem like propaganda. Once I get past that, he said I should find the rest of the film enjoyable. Is the film propaganda? Yes! Is that bad? Not in the slightest!
By it's very nature, film is a political medium. The vision and views of the filmmakers dictate the images presented to the viewer. Some filmmakers are more subtle while other's have nothing to hide. From Luis Bunuel to Oliver Stone, they all have one thing in common, they lay their cards on the table for all to see. Their goal is for us, the viewers, to have our eyes opened and to take home a few aces.
The best political films aren't concerned with changing our ideology, just illuminating the convictions of those behind the camera. This is where the film succeeds, Clement is very upfront with his beliefs, but he never shoves his views down the audience's throat. He creates three very tangible characters that the audience can identify with. Three engaging characters that make us, as viewers, want to stand up and fight along side them. That's something the most accomplished of Hollywood filmmakers can't do.