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A VERY SPECIAL GUY

Seventh Heaven (1927) from the North American director Franz Borzage, a movie awarded with an Oscar, is one of the hidden geniuses of silent films. Martin Scorsese declared hardly a year ago that he had revisited the films of Borzage, specially the ones of the silent film era, and discovered a more relevant filmmaker than what the cinematographic history has suggested. Without doubt, this movie belongs to this imaginary and recovered location. Beyond its deep and torn romanticism, the apotheosis of final love scene is masterful, the movie is shot with a special sensibility towards the complexities of the protagonists, an effective cast of secondary actors, and a wonderful ambience, always supporting the final objective of the film. "Chico" (Charles Farell) is, as the decisive epiphany of the tape shows, a "special guy"; as special as the magnificent Janet Gaynor in her pamphletary role of "Diane".  All characters are transformed by the end of the movie, there are no shallow profiles, except evil (which is represented by the sister of Diane, the tormented victim). Life changes people, the circumstances are random and unpredictable, evil is always present at the doors of destiny, and destiny tends to trip the characters. But there beats an illusion "to look upwards", towards the seventh heaven that is referred in the title. Revisiting this film reminds us that true cinema, only the image, the narrative game through images in movement, without further additives than the gestural expression of the actors, was the essence silent films. Words can get to contaminate the image. And the merit, the genius, of directors like Franz Borzage, when adapting the extremely sentimentalist work of Austin Strong, lies in transforming it into images full of visual force, sensible towards the most sceptic viewer and, due to this, a love story which arises in the darkest corner of Paris, like a metaphor of the urge to live and the will of power.

Fernando R. Lafuente


Fundación Juan March
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