03 juin 2007

Saudade and Colossal Youth

Fado, Portugal's traditional music that shares the intensity of emotion of flamenco or the blues, relies on an emotion called saudade. Saudade isn't limited to fado, though; it's a theme of many varieties of art from Portugal. Hard to translate, it's an emotion that reflects a deep yearning for something lost, something that can't be regained but that still leaves a flicker of hope... Saudade runs deeply through Colossal Youth.

Amália Rodrigues is to fado what Piaf is to Chanson. Here is what saudade is:
Listen to "Quando Os Outros Te Batem Beijo-Te Eu;" pay special attention at about the 2:07 mark.
[Update: Due to technical problems with the upload, the moment I'm talking about is not at the 2:07 mark in the piece you hear. Trying to fix that soon... any suggestions for alternate ways to embed audio appreciated.]

Amália Rodrigues - "Quando Os Outros Te Batem Beijo-Te Eu"

Wikipedia on Saudade:
"Saudade is different from nostalgia (the English word, that is). In nostalgia, one has a mixed happy and sad feeling, a memory of happiness but a sadness for its impossible return and sole existence in the past. Saudade is like nostalgia but with the hope that what is being longed for might return, even if that return is unlikely or so distant in the future to be almost of no consequence to the present. One might make a strong analogy with nostalgia as a feeling one has for a loved one who has died and saudade as a feeling one has for a loved one who has disappeared or is simply currently absent. Nostalgia is located in the past and is somewhat conformist while saudade is very present, anguishing, anxious and extends into the future."

"Colossal Youth has more doors than any movie in history" - Tag Gallagher

Pedro Costa: A Closed Door That Leaves Us Guessing

Werner Herzog's documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly begins with a scene of Dieter Dengler opening and closing doors. He explains that doors to him represent freedom, in contrast to his time as a POW during the Vietnam War. (Herzog suggested the scene, in his quest for ecstatic truth).
The doors that are so present in Colossal Youth hint at this notion of freedom, but with same irony as the film's Portuguese title (see my previous post on CY for more). The doors in this film may be open, but their passageways lead to nowhere. This irony is not complete, though, for these doors also are imbued with the slight possibility that they do represent freedom, in spite of our knowing better than to believe it ("When they give us white rooms we'll stop seeing these things"). This is a hope we can only call saudade.

^ Suggested in response to a post by Darren at Long Pauses.

One final note: I've created a Wikipedia page for Colossal Youth (there wasn't one before!). At the moment there's just some basic info up; I could use some help fleshing it out.