This classic motion picture from Argentina is a 1963 art-house adaptation of a short story by the renowned Argentine writer, Julio Cortázar. The short story of the same name appears in his 1951 collection, Bestiario.
In Greek mythology and the Odyssey, Circe is a beautiful and powerful enchantress who uses her gifts to lure men into her lair to then turn them into animals. The “Circe” of this feature film is Delia, a beautiful but mysterious woman whose two previous suitors died unexpectedly while courting her, one of a heart condition and the other of suicide. Despite neighborhood rumors that implicate Delia as the cause of these tragedies, Mario finds himself inexplicably drawn to her. Their courtship occurs, primarily, in Delia’s oppressively dark house, which she seldom leaves. Delia alternately brings Mario close to her while, at the same time, withdraws from his advances. As their courtship progresses, Delia cannot escape from her obsession and, perhaps, guilt over the past, leaving the viewer to wonder whether she is victim or victimizer.
Director Manuel Antín, as a member of the Generación del 60 in Argentina, uses cinematographic techniques and themes of the French New Wave such as existentialism, marginalized characters, and abrupt scene cuts (jump cuts) and applies them to the urban bourgeoisie of Buenos Aires. His use of shadow and light, as well as mirrors is especially noteworthy.
Circe is a difficult film to watch. The constant use of temporal jumps requires the viewer to question and reflect on the reality of what she is seeing. On the other hand, these devices reflect the fractured state of Delia’s mind as she, still in mourning, repeatedly relives the courtship of her dead suitors, Rolo and Héctor, while courting Mario.
This feature film is recommended for a library collection with a comprehensive collection of Latin American cinema in support of a film studies program. This film is also of interest to students of Latin American literature.
808MB | 1h 11mn | 496×360 | mkv