Since time immemorial, mankind has looked up to stars. The stars of popular culture, as what the title suggests, who we now look up to today are pointedly insignificant in the vastness of the universe.
Moody versus the typically informative documentary, the film covers the last seven years of the subject Cristóbal Guirao’s hermitage in a hovel overlooking the coast of Santa Cristina d’Aro in Catalonia, Spain. In artsy black & white, the painfully long takes of equally exquisite nature shots that define this film give the viewers a relative feel of the excruciatingly slow pace of the subjects’ life as he trudges quite literally, as one would later see, into oblivion. Shots of a snail brilliantly support that illustration — that it carries that shell that supports its existence also as a burden while it valiantly goes about its’ way.
Hollywood invites the viewer to immerse himself in Guirao’s world and to experience the complexity of what one would consider an extremely simple life. From his familial relations with his two dogs, “Boy” and Linda; to the undefined relationship between him and his constant visitor and fellow pothead, Joanna; and yet another visitor, the rather surreal, unnamed female character in lace — a clown character if you will; his conversations, or rather, monologues are oftentimes explosive and peppered with cussing, hinting at his past and deeper life issues. At one point, he declares that “love does not exist” and that “the only real love is the love of parents.”
It is particularly interesting that he invests considerable effort in food preparation and coming up with variety given his obviously limited means, a situational nod to the “sustainable food” movement in the way that he makes most of what is around him. Fresh catch was roasted in foil. What looked like fatty offcuts of meat were stir-fried with foraged mushrooms and what I assumed to be home-garden vegetables — a good portion of which he lovingly served to his dogs. In one last food scene he prepares a tortilla; a Spanish omelet; with potatoes and wild asparagus. All these betraying some joie de vivre even in his desolation.
Shifting between the nature shots and Guirao’s day-to-day, the viewer is drawn into his struggle with living out his life. He is last seen drinking straight out of a carton, amidst all the accumulations in his kitchen, and giving the camera an eye as if to question the viewer’s interest. The film then shifts to color, panning over what remains of Guirao’s hovel, suggesting a change, well, more of his passing. I was left asking questions and given nothing definite of an answer. It would allow one much introspection with comparisons to our own lives, thus, drawing very personal conclusions.
We are all stars, in our own right, in our own light, but in this infinity we are really just nothing. What is important in our own little lives is that we do things that matter for those who matter to us.
I move to eat,I breathe not to suffocate,
I eat to live and I spend hours
contemplating how time cannot run away.
I live not to die.
I live as long as I’m not dying.
— Ramon Tort
Hollywood, by Spanish filmmaker Ramon Tort, was one of the featured documentary films at the 3rd Cebu International Documentary Film Festival.