Lovers of the Arctic Circle
Posted on 15 August 2010, 6:24
Spent this evening watching Julio Medem’s Lovers of the Arctic Circle (1998… how did I miss it before now?), which is definitely a film to keep for future viewing. Lyrical and elusive, this Spanish movie begins with two young schoolchildren who meet by chance and discover that their names – Otto and Ana – are words that work in reverse as well as forwards, setting the tone for a film which plays with time, chance and overlapping fates.
In the intense central scene, Ana and Otto sit close together as teenagers over a geography textbook and she shows him a map of Finland. ‘That’s the line of the Arctic Circle,’ she says. ‘Inside that line, in summer, the sun never sets. That’s the midnight sun. Isn’t it strange?’
They become lovers, but are separated by events, only finding each other again at a lake which is exactly on the Arctic Circle, where the sun merely dips to the horizon and the rules of day and night, as well as love and death, are suspended.
Apparently, Julio Medem directed the film without a formal script, seeing the film as ‘a way I could use to show things that I could not express with words.’ Beyond its ambiguous ending, which had me reconstructing the final events at the lake, Lovers of the Arctic Circle left me with a kind of homesickness for its beautifully human themes.