The Other Francisco

Sergio Giral's film The Other Francicso, utilizes a format that summons elements of a Brechtian approach by addressing the audience yet departs in a manner. It presents happenings from the popular book of the same name, then stops to question 'wasn't it really worse?" and then reworks the material and makes it worse. This continual backtracking is what a psychoanalyst would call the "yes, but" game often played by neurotics undergoing therapy. This game's goal is to receive permission for something the neurotic already wants to do. However, Giral plays this game to no end and seems uncertain what exactly he wants to do. He presents the parable of field slaves whose existence is bad in the novel, shows how it was actually worse, paints such a bleak picture that violence is justified and then shows how that violence is futilely disastrous. The film structure, the backtracking, would have been conducive to a moral, yet the moral is sadly lacking. This film caters to the voyeurism of self-deprecating whites who are stuck with thoughts of "yes, how terrible" and messages of "never again" for the black and minority audience. Yet how can these themes have any application? What does this filmmaker want us to do? Yes, the problem still exists and the wounds are still open from centuries of oppression but after engaging in this movie for two hours one feels like a moral is deserved. It is possible that Giral wants for this film to keep the floor open for debate on the misconceptions of slavery and the real hatred that arose from it to be addressed as such in a modern context. History by nature is revisionist and here is a film which revises itself about ten times in a historical context. Where this film could have leapt off the screen and catalyzed something it by manner of its revisionist structure has totally killed the effectiveness of this material for further viewing. No longer would "Roots" have any kind of verisimilitude or any import to its themes or morals after TOF had been digested due to the enormous question marks it suspends over these issues. The Other Francisco 's plot structure is very frustrating in a non-constructive way and I would only recommend it to a masochist. In the 20th century we need to move past guilt and into applications of equality, let Giral wallow by himself.


Last Updated on 03/06/00
By JR Kerr
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