5 - Gesture and Desire
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 January 2023
Argentinian filmmaker Leonardo Favio's Crónica de un niño solo (Chronicle of a Lonely Child, 1965) poeticizes the experiences of young boys subject to the repressive conditions of reform schools on the outskirts of small, impoverished shantytowns. Favio's aesthetic blends influences from romantic varieties of European art cinema (particularly François Truffaut's The 400 Blows, to which the film explicitly refers) and a filmmaking approach sensitive to the interactions of the people in front of the camera. His actors in Crónica are mostly young boys, and when Favio's viewer first sees them it is in the reform school, an institution designed to keep desire under lock and key; the boys encounter long and seemingly endless corridors, in an architecture of steel bars and twisting staircases. In one scene, Favio's camera shows us several boys, scattered in a cavernous room that reverberates with the echoes of playing, yelling, crying. Most of these little gestures and expressions convey frustrated desire, stuck in a loop of repetitions: one boy cradles the head of another in his lap, as they pass the time; another spits again and again, onto the floor; two boys, in close-up on either side of the screen, blow a marble back and forth; another kicks a little ball against a wall.
One of these boys, holding before him a magazine page engulfed by Monica Vitti's visage, very cautiously glances for a few seconds across the room; his eyes nearly meet the camera directly, as if the very viewer of Crónica were policing his behavior, too. After a moment, he brings the Vitti photograph to his face; bending the pages of the magazines backwards, as if in imitation of the lover's caress of the head, he kisses the paper on which are reproduced Vitti's lips. A cut to a shot of some other boys leaves him in the middle of this kiss, as if suspended in private, confused ecstasy. Later in this montage, the film will return to this boy, who is now asleep (or feigning it), his head resting next to the photographic image of Vitti, the palm of his hand frozen in a caress of the magazine page (Figure 5).
- Shots to the HeartFor the Love of Film Performance, pp. 27 - 34Publisher: Anthem PressPrint publication year: 2022