Experimenting with the picture format remains a relatively uncharted territory of contemporary cinema. Apart from Xavier Dolan’s Mommy (2014), it is rather difficult to recall any other such film that would score major success with the general audience.
Belgian director Gust Van den Berghe recently tried to fill in this gap with his latest film, Lucifer, which stands out right away thanks to its untraditional picture format. Without much ado with calculating the best aspect ratio of the rectangle format, Van den Berghe throws the concept away and opts for the round format instead.
Thanks to this format, the director is able to force the audience to perceive the picture as if through a telescope and/or a microscope. He consistently applies this dichotomy to change the mood and pace of the film. In certain moments, the silver screen is rather unwilling to communicate with the audience and is really tight-fisted when it comes to revealing events and information – the viewers can’t help feeling that they are watching the film from another planet. Immediately afterwards, though, the director switches to the “microscope mode”, revealing the innermost secrets and desires of the leading characters.
As the title suggests, the film speaks of the fallen angel who en route from Heaven to Hell makes a brief stop in earthly world, which happens to be a Mexican hamlet; however, the main character is not the Devil himself but an older Mexican woman who lives with her “paralysed” brother and her granddaughter.
While Lucifer is far from an angel, he has not yet become the Devil, either; on the contrary, he is the first being that has ever tasted both good and evil and is about to pass his knowledge onto the mortals. Using this premise, Van den Berghe reveals the poetics and simplicity of Mexican villagers and their unfaltering faith in miracles despite the hard life.
By Adam Straka
Translated by Daniel Borský