Sunday, 2 February 2014

A round of flashbacks and childhood memories

This January 2014, the movies I watched for my Three films project were produced by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki . I got this recommendation with lots of excitement and joy without apparent reason, I thought when I first heard of these movies. The first one for this month was Kiki’s delivery service. The plot of the story reminded me of myself travelling and moving to other places, from Garagoa to Bogotá, from Bogotá to Liverpool, from Bogotá to Sao Paulo and Maceió. Kiki evoked my dearest memories about discovering streets, people, places and the joy of learning something new with a certain sense of naivety. That city, where Kiki decided to land, rang a bell in my head: Cinque Terre in Italy. I’ve never been there myself but Pinterest has become my eyes recently: steep streets with a view to the sea. I even thought of Albert Camus describing Orán and then my mind hopped into an old English city: with the shops, the stone bridges, the narrow streets… maybe The Shambles in York. Memories stroke me once and again while I watched. However, the movie itself let me mind-wander and enjoy the ride because of one reason: the simplicity of the plot that unfolds easily to an unexpected ending. I reckoned Kiki was going to go through a hard training in a very Harry Potter fashion but I was wrong. Her training was basically about living life, about how to deal with ups and downs and how to trust in herself. That was the very first round of flashbacks that took me like 10 years back in time. And it was only the beginning: just ten years back.

Again, with a simple storyline, My Neighbor Totoro took me 25 years back when I used to spend my vacations in my grandmother’s farm. The places explored by the girls made me rake up the hours spent in my Grandmother’s garden full of physalis bushes and white daisies. The scene that brought to light one of my dearest and completely forgotten memories was when Mei crawled in this tunnel made of bushes. It was like a secret place and I also had one in my Grandmother’s farm. It was on top of a little hill with a great view of the road and half of the farm on the other side of that road. I used to take candies with me to stay there for a while. What I remember the most was the sweet taste of fudge and coconut, the skyline with mountains and trees and this recurring question in my head: what or who could live on the other side of the horizon? Although I cannot recall what I used to imagine to answer this question to myself, I still get glad about thinking I must have imagined things like a Totoro or a catbus.  

These flashbacks were taking me further and further and I had great expectations about El viaje de Chihiro. How back could a movie take me in my memory? I must have been 7 years old when I hung out in my secret place. What could I remember before that age? I watched the movie with great expectations: I even invited my sister to watch it with me. But just right after Chihiro arrived to that “strange” place, my sister and me turned our heads, looked at each other and said with disdain: I got bored already! What was I going to do? I had promised I was going to watch it. My sister got up and walked away but I stayed to see how Chihiro would escape from that “place” that seemed to me very surreal and realistic: it showed lots of Japanese customs but at the same time the characters from that place seemed to be taken from a dream. That was it! Chihiro was dreaming! I thought. That was the only way all those strange things could be possible. By the time Chihiro became a skilled worker in that “place”, I had already bought the whole story, although quite oniric, it was plausible. How come? Since I couldn’t remember very well what I imagined when I was 4, I got the feeling that a child might well imagine a story like Chihiro’s and not know what is real and what is just imagination. This blurred limit is what makes this movie everything but boring. Thanks goodness I finished watching it. This time I didn’t get so clear memories like my secret place but fragmented flashbacks of the stories I used to make up when playing in the backyard in my home in Garagoa, the number of times I used to count sheep-shaped clouds in the sky with Mom, the endless times I had to hide from angry roosters and the stories I used to tell when walking around the creeks in my Grandmother’s farm. That is why these Three Films were a pure round of flashbacks and childhood memories for me.