The Books and the Night

A sumptuous feast of images and ideas for the Jose Luis Borges disciple, imaginatively high-tech docudrama on writer's life and major themes is, inevitably, rather less enthralling for the uninitiated. Specialty fest play may be vigorous in wake of the 1999 Borges centennial, with tube and reference life a long-term certainty.

A sumptuous feast of images and ideas for the Jose Luis Borges disciple, imaginatively high-tech docudrama on writer’s life and major themes is, inevitably, rather less enthralling for the uninitiated. Specialty fest play may be vigorous in wake of the 1999 Borges centennial, with tube and reference life a long-term certainty.

Utilizing extensive f/x work, documaker Tristan Bauer has woven a visual anthology of Borges’ overriding metaphors into the more traditional biopic structure of interview material and staged sequences to illustrate a life devoted to books and big ideas. Thus, the metaphor of the labyrinthine library with its hexagonal structure and spiral staircases, so central to Borges’ work, is brought to life as Walter Santa Ana, portraying the elderly writer, wanders among the endless stacks in an “endless odyssey for a book.” Leonardo Sbaraglia plays a younger Borges, who receives guidance from his older self in a face-to-face meeting. Lorenzo Quinteros appears as a librarian and Hector Alterio plays a man from the future. Tech credits are crisp and complex, led by the digital effects of Illusion 3D and Martin Grignaschi’s Dolby sound mix.

The Books and the Night

(ARGENTINA)

Production: A Universidad Nacional General San Martin/Canal Plus Madrid production. (International sales: Tristan Bauer, Manuela Pedraza, Buenos Aires.) Produced by Diego Dubcovsky. Directed by Tristan Bauer. Screenplay, Bauer, Carolina Scaglione. Camera (color), Javier Julia, Alejandro Fernandez Moujan; editor, Alejandro Brodersohn; music, Federico Bonasso; art director, Abel Facellol; sound (Dolby Digital), Martin Grignaschi. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 17, 2000. Original title: Los libros y la noche. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Walter Santa Ana, Hector Alterio, Lorenzo Quinteros, Leonardo Sbaraglia.

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