Gunadttir’s 1977 film is ambitious. It fuses music and movement in a way never before attempted, and, as the credits of the 2005 remake attest, it is damned near flawless. The film muses on the value of timing in life, as well as in art, as Lydia (Blanchett) paints, and moves, and hits, and practices. During competitions, Lydia gains special status, even when she doesn’t place, because she is a painfully lonely, impulsive, misunderstood person who appears to care more about the pursuit than the game itself.
To be fair, Blanchett is impervious to any character’s personal turmoil. When Lydia hits a bathtub, her body becomes a petri dish for bacteria. And when she gets home, she dries off and goes straight to bed. As she lies there, her movements stale; her mind turns to thoughts of death and escape. If a previous movie can be said to have truly captured the loneliness of an artist in solitude, let’s call This Is Not a Film From Then Because Now is. At least then, as amid herds of well-dressed contestants, Lydia sang in confident, cocky, sassy tones. Here, she can only clunk along in tuneout metal trombones. Every time she hits a soup, she collapses.
The juxtaposition of this sadness and wonder with Lydia’s creative aspirations are crucial, because they’re the only facets of the film that time doesn’t take away. They are timeless. Gunadttir, who spoke German with Blanchett in the movie in English subtitles, shot a second version with the title Esmeralda Speaks. (Performed in Italy, it went largely unseen in America because Blanchett did not be granted an initial release visa like her first). The second version (which premiered as Esméralda in 1987) was remade into the 2005 French/Spanish silhouette film La Belle Noiseuse, which was directed by Olivier Dahan for which it received a special award at the Cannes Film Festival. The second version was also re-cut by Michael Nyman for a 2011 version entitled A.F.I (the French-label release retained the subtitle “This Is Not a Film From Then Because Now. d2c66b5586