Chaotic Ana

English Title: Chaotic Ana

Original Title: Caótica Ana

Country of Origin: Spain

Studio: Alicia produce, SOGECINE, Volcano Internacional Productions

Director: Julio Médem

Producer(s): Simón de Santiago, Enrique López Lavigne, Julio Médem, Koldo Zuazua

Screenplay: Julio Médem

Cinematographer: Mario Montero

Editor: Mario Montero

Runtime: 113 minutes


Language: Spanish

Starring/Cast: Asier Newman , Charlotte Rampling, Manuela Vellés

Year: 2007

Volume: Spanish / Portuguese

The film tells the story of Ana, a young painter brought up by her hippy father after the mother abandons the family. Ana, too, will soon leave her home – a cave in Ibiza – after being discovered by a French head-hunter who invites her to go to Madrid to live with a group of young artists and explore in greater depth what makes her so special. Once in Madrid, Ana meets and falls in love with Said. Through hypnosis, she discovers some of her past lives, but especially her past deaths.

The film begins with a close-up of a beautiful dove crossing the skies. Meanwhile, a falcon is waiting to be freed so it can trap its prey: the fragile dove. Just then something unexpected happens: while in full flight, the dove’s droppings fall on its predator. When the scene is about to come to an end, a sequence takes us once again to Ana, the protagonist, who calls the action a ‘poetic gesture’. The bird of peace, however, will not get off free, becoming trapped in the claws of death while the camera pauses to show the dove’s agony.
From this moment onwards, the film contains a series of metaphors around the central theme of reincarnation. Yet reincarnation turns out to be merely an excuse for many other underlying topics the Basque film-maker Julio Médem has often revealed in an allegorical manner throughout his professional career: Basque mythology, philosophy and art.
A shot then pans out to reveal the books in Said’s library; Said, a young refugee from the town of Tindouf in the Hamada desert, in this story symbolizes knowledge. Ana, however, does not want to delve any deeper; she has no thirst for knowledge. Like the goddess Mary, she prefers to stay in her underground quarters connected to the surface through wells, deep abysses, rivers of milk and caverns full of doors that, when opened, reveal only pain and death and the impossibility of union between man and woman, because man destroys woman. But Ana will not remain for long in the dark shadows, and just as Plato describes in the Myth of the Cavern, she will be guided by the madame or patron (as she calls herself) towards the world of ideas and knowledge. Standing on the edge of the abyss, Ana contemplates this halfway point between myth and philosophy incarnated in images of the sun, moon, the Earth and water. The images represent what a Presocratic philosopher called the Theory of the four roots in which the four roots forming the cosmos are dominated by two forces that explain all movement (generation and corruption) in the world: Love, which unites them, and Strife, which sets them in opposition.
Nonetheless, Ana decides to take the leap. Linda, who will guide her to the other world – the world of knowledge – does so through an eye: the eye of her video camera to show Ana the reality and pain of freeing oneself from the chains and bonds of ignorance. Colourful naive paintings link Ana to her past lives, contrasting with the lives that can be seen through the eye of Linda’s camera and which represent the most immediate present.
Fleeing from her pain, Ana arrives at the land of freedom to reunite with her ancestors and rediscover her origins. To do so, she must cross the mythical Fordian landscape of the Arizona desert, with Monument Valley in the background. In her quest she is guided by Anglo, her hypnotizer, who takes her to the Hopi reserve where she will finally encounter her reason for being.
At the end of the film, Ana defends those who sacrifice their lives because others have decided they must. She will be badly hurt in her particular venture, but also victorious like the image of the Winged Victory of Samothrace that appears briefly at the end of the film to highlight triumph in war and the triumphant involvement in life: the victory of the dove over the falcon; in short, the victory of life over death.

Author of this review: Ana Melendo