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Galaxy and The Catalogue: a Diary of the Long Journey of The Yellow Bus

The Long Journey of The Yellow Bus
(Julio Bressane and Rodrigo Lima, 2023, Brasil)

by Leonardo Bomfim


On Tuesday, January 31, motivated by the arrival of a friend who took an overnight train just to watch the movie, I decide to retrace the long trip of the day before. The review of the images helps the organization of ideas. The almost incomprehensible scribbles, written down in the heat of the dark room, now seem more coherent. The memories are alive. It's possible to start.


I look at the map. I discover that the bus trip to Holland is almost the same length as the movie. A little shorter, to be precise (6h40 versus 7h12). Destiny has fulfilled its role and adjusted everything, including the price of the ticket. In a few days I will arrive in Rotterdam to see the world premiere of A Longa Viagem do Ônibus Amarelo (2023), the most awaited film by Julio Bressane and Rodrigo Lima.


In the endless straight line of the road, I remember two occasions when Julio Bressane's cinema tried to become infinite. Once, in a room inside the vault of an old bank in Porto Alegre, a screening of A Família do Barulho (1970) turned into an extraordinary event. Modeled after the Oswaldian reference, the film appropriates the idea of the "millionaire contribution of all the mistakes" to put on stage all the filmed material, including the actors' mistakes, the scene repetitions, the clapboards... That day, everything was enhanced by another mistake: the projection. The copy screened seemed to come from a scratched DVD. The result was a back and forth of scenes, repetitions of repetitions, abrupt cuts and that subversive narrative of the traditional Belairian family trapped in a labyrinth. Towards the end, when the duration was already much longer than expected, a cinema employee whispered in my ear (I had been invited to participate in a Q&A): "is there something wrong? The screening was interrupted and the never-ending version of A Familia do Barulho ended, as it could only be, before the end. That night, walking through the city's dark downtown, I remembered another surprising experience with Bressane's universe, years before, also motivated by an unexpected situation in the projection booth…  In the same room! The Cine Esquema Novo festival had programmed there the very rare cinematographic transcreations of Haroldo de Campos' work. At the end of the double program that brought together Galáxia Albina (1992) and Infernalário: Logodédalo - Galáxia Escura (1993), a surprise: Cary Grant alone on the side of the road. Was it part of the film? In one cut, the character's waiting gave way to another, Alain Delon's in Italy. A scene from L'Eclisse (1961). And so it went, successively, until the lights came on: Hitchcock, Antonioni, Hitchcock, Antonioni... The session was almost an hour longer than announced in the program and nobody understood a thing. Some time later, I found out that that pedagogical montage that came out of nowhere after the galaxies was a film and was called Antonioni - Hitchcock: The Image on the Run (1993). It was eventually shown because of a distraction by the projectionist (did he sleep, go away, want to work overtime?) who left the beta tape - apparently compiling several gems from the early 1990s - running until the end.

I write it down twice because the obvious is what most forget. The memories on the road evokes not only the possibility that a Bressane film may never end, but also the initial engine of Haroldo de Campos' Galaxias (1984) (the journey as book and the book as journey) and the revision of images from an adventure created in the editing room.


I arrive in Rotterdam on Sunday, January 29th, the day before the premiere. I search the schedule, assuming that obsession is the vain sister of expectation, for some films that might warm up the trip scheduled for the following morning. I find LOLA (2022), an Irish science-fiction film by Andrew Legge that speculates, based on the idea of the found manuscript (reels of 16mm film), many possible worlds: WWII may have its course changed, You Really Got Me by the Kinks may become a feminist anthem in the 1940s, David Bowie may have become a dentist and never an artist, the British island in the 1970s a Nazi-fascist kingdom... I see a small gem, Mudos Testigos (2022), conceived by the late Luis Ospina, made concrete after his death by Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga, who invents an unusual melodrama appropriating the narratives of Colombian silent films. And at the end of the evening, a session of short and medium-length films entitled Revelations and Jest programmed by Olaf Möller, who presented, among others, Nitrate: To the Ghosts of the 75 Lost Philippine Silent Films (1912-1933) (2023) by Khavn de la Cruz, a distorted journey through fragments of Philippine fantastic cinema of the 1950s-1970s, and the very brief The Hidden Gesture. War and Melodrama in Hollywood's 30s and 40s (2023), directed by Argentinian critic Dana Najlis.

Between the found filmic manuscript, the dives into film libraries, and the embrace of VHSrips, many ideas sprinkle in my head. The most tormented is about inequality: Najlis' beautiful film is the fruit of a work of one who can watch and review-and consequently think and rethink-something very well. Khavn's, on the other hand, reveals its raison d'être in the very monstrosity of the image: when the detail is inaccessible, that which is on the surface is revealed. Can one imagine the magnifying glass that the Argentine filmmaker puts on North American works from the 1930s and 1940s, shifting planes from their narrative obligations in order to bring out the hidden details of these genres often seen in an antagonistic way, looking at the Philippine collection? It would further expose the pixels, blurs, and other visual deformations of fifth generation prints that seem to have been telecinated by the devil himself. Seen after the crystal clear images of classic Hollywood cinema, these shapeless creatures naturally make me think of the drama of film preservation spread across the four corners of the planet. As a counterfield to the enlightened resurrection of divine figures, there are the rotting zombies that recall every day, in a continuous lament, the curse experienced by entire cinematographies.

At that moment, I had not yet seen the opening credits of A Longa Viagem do Ônibus Amarelo. I would find out the next morning that the film is co-produced by the Cinemateca do MAM (Modern Art Museum) in Rio de Janeiro.


Late Sunday evening, Westblaak Street. To the misfortune of festival crossfitters, a woman quietly smokes her cigarette and fills the entrance of one of the movie theaters with smoke. She is Jackie Raynal, an editor, filmmaker, and occasional actress, one of the heads of the Zanzibar collective, which emerged on the French scene in the midst of the 1968 fires. With an overflowing friendliness, past eighty years old, she talks about the time when Rotterdam guests stayed on boats. I think, before going to sleep, that a beautiful program could bring together these immediately subsequent generations that radicalized their respective modern "waves" at the end of the 1960s in countries like Argentina, India, France, Japan, Italy, Yugoslavia, Brazil... In the set list, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Mani Kaul, Jackie Raynal, Masao Adachi, Carmelo Bene, Zelimir Zilnik. The ideal opening for this dream show: The Angel was Born (1969).


Monday, January 30, 10:45 a.m., in a movie theater located in a small street near the Chinese Quarter. Elena Duque, a Venezuelan filmmaker and programmer living in Spain, invites the directors to present the film. Among promises and predictions, Bressane says (or he will say later, already in the Q&A, I don't remember well) that "this is a film made of anonymous images."


At the beginning of it all, total silence and tranquil panoramas in the north of the world: carriages, cars, bridges, parks, the New York buildings. The cuts sound like discrete bursts. Is it a montage made on the camera itself, or was it made for the new film? Is the passage from one image to another from 1959 or 2023? In the first minutes of the trip, the first winding curve: the impression of watching a work made in parallel in different times. There are (and will be) no explanations of contexts or dates. Against the hard law of information, a hypnotic cadence emerges that spreads a soft uneasiness in the mental map of the viewer - including because it makes and unmakes several timelines along the journey. A new snap, a new world: the clouds and mountains, seen from an airplane, indicate a geographical displacement. The rested clothes, the cheerful dog, the tropical cobblestones announce Brazil, a naturally special and luminous place in this story.

In the initial recognition of the disturbances, the recurrence of a dissonant image among those that eternalize with some fervor the travel journal. The camera is turned to the face of the one filming: here is the man. Or rather, the boy! Face to face, the mechanical eye of the super-8 and the bright eye of the teenager seem to establish a magical connection.

The images are anonymous - he will say decades after the instant self-portraits - because nobody sees them. It is not the case of falling into the trap of thinking in a genial contradiction of the enthusiastic young man (by the muses of the world or by the miracle of the camera?) who wants to sign his first creatures. This recurrent gesture, in the frisson of the golden years, makes one think of the fascination of becoming an image, but not only - to become an image, after all, the camera could be left in the hands of someone else in the family. More than that: in a simple action, a reverse is revealed, a behind, an outside of the image, and this subversion of rotation is imprinted on the film itself. At the time of the projection, the face to face takes on another dimension. The eyes of the beholder, forced to assume a disguise within the scene, are summoned to participate in the revealing connection. The little devil whispers: won't this gesture be repeated, in many ways, throughout Bressane's work? Isn't the essential trace here?

The gesture marked already in the open wards at least one certainty. The fact that this is a film dedicated not to the life of, but to a life of, the one built together with this beautiful wizarding machine in permanent encounters. The long journey begins with the first shot.


From the soundtrack of Cleopatra (2005) come the first words heard in the film. 

"What terrible news, Fulvia is dead."


The paths fork as the journey still finds its form. The filmed diaries and scenes from private life are joined by famous images from the fictional universe. And also of their revealing reverses. At the entrance of a building, the voice behind the scene asks Roberto Batalin if any Brazilian filmmaker has ever fallen down the stairs. It is the password for the trip to become a great walk through Bressane's filmography with variations on the same theme: countless ups and downs on stairs that cross decades, from Face to Face (1967) to Capitu e o Capítulo (2021).

Sounding like a legitimate operatic overture, this introductory moment runs through all the themes of the long journey in a kind of miniature - the sublime obsessions, the editing proposals, the relationships with time and space, the revisiting of fictions, the displacement of the shots in relation to their narratives, the heterogeneous conversation between images of diverse origins. The suggestion of a minisymphony of images at the beginning of everything also suggests an awareness that the eyes glued to the screen are already seduced by a great mystery. One of the friends in Killed the Family and Went to the Movies (1969) walks down a corridor attracted by the secret of a door. The protagonist of Baron Olavo the Horrible (1970) appears with careful steps, possessed by intrigue, in his colorful castle. These "mini-stories that articulate and dissipate with the suspense of a detective novel" mirror my eagerness before the opening mini-symphonies. I get the impression that the narrative organization of the long journey is modeled on the idea of a puzzle wrought by a huge corridor with a multitude of open doors.

The suspense built by (and for) the image also confirms what had been glimpsed in the archival films from the night before: Bressane and Lima's journey (and that of all the crew members) is an adventure that crosses many visual textures: grain coexists with pixels, restored film coexists with blown-up film, bright digital coexists with dull digital, found footage coexists with lost footage.


After the mini-symphony, the dive into the 1970s. The alarm goes off in every image. Where did Cinema of Invention go, interrupted by sinister forces at its most inspired moment? Surviving fragments inspire suspicion: in Andrea Tonacci's lunch box in some Indian nook, in Elyseu Visconti's open smile somewhere in the world, in Guará Rodrigues who cooks with only one leg in some London slum. The silent images of this period of a thousand journeys reveal all the time the warm sharing of loneliness. Pieces of films rarely or never seen (maybe not all of them now, but my memory wants to include them here) come into play: Crazy Love (1971), A Fada do Oriente (1972), Lágrima Pantera - A Míssil (1972)... The exile that matters most in this excerpt from The Long Journey is the one that resembles the narrative the least. There are no strangleholds, no bank robbery plots, but the silent traces of a traveling community. These brief glimpses of beauty in exile are made up of a collection of faces, hands, smiles, of friends and strangers, of Brazilians and foreigners, of discrete landscapes and sacred places. The blessed thefts indicate an ethnographic disposition, but do not hide the greater rapture: to eternalize in images the deepest dive, the love story with Rosa Dias.

In the end credits, The Long Journey of the Yellow Bus is referenced as a film made in 1972. The trip actually happened, inspired by a psychedelic tourist route from London, England, to Darjeeling, India. Did this film, absent from the most complete catalogs of his cinema, exist concretely or only in a dream? At this point, a precise answer is of little interest. More valuable than knowing the exact information about the survival of a few minutes of a kilometer-long material is to reinforce the delirious impression of the beginning. A film can be two films in parallel: one made in the 1970s (never finished, never seen, only imagined?) and another in the 2020s (which seems to be imagined and not seen, and may never be finished in fact)


The eastern express meets the mystery of the hinterland of Paraiba. The stones, great stars of the director's personal records (in his youthful films the walls of buildings already seem to haunt the amateur camera), become protagonists once and for all. The movement of the camera that often wants to grope surfaces suggests a relationship with a voracious eye, almost anxious, and a brush in action that urges to inscribe something there. In Ingá dos Bacamartes, decades before São Jerônimo (1999), Bressane goes beyond and, in search of Antônio Vieira's promises, discovers the scratched corner of the enchanted stone when he rubs the microphone on the walls decorated by rock drawings (editor's note - this is the same archeological site that inspired Zé Ramalho and Lula Côrtes to record, in those same lysergic summers, the album Paêbirú). More surviving stones from other times and new mythical constructions will be celebrated. One of the most beautiful: Grande Otelo's face, absolutely still, appears as a great and brilliant rock. In this mineral reverie of the magical journey, a new presence is announced. The serpent admires Rosa Dias' belly. The first daughter, Tande, from now on is part of the journey. With a noisy anarchy that ends the almost silent dream, the child makes it clear that if the angel is finally born, she is a crooked species that challenges the chorus of the contented and imprints violent songs in some sacred landscape of the world. Others will come: Noa, the second daughter, the grandchildren. At each shot in which some part of the large family that Rosa and Julio have assembled over the years - far beyond blood consecration - appears, a voice from outside the film sounds as if there were a loudspeaker in the movie theater: "watch out, we bite!"


The family that is on the screen is also sitting in the cinema seats.


The image of a watchmaker at work, in a digital texture, breaks the flow of the seventies trip. An unexpected interruption ends the magic once and for all: the image freezes on the big screen and a young Dutch woman with a notebook in her hands informs him in English that there will be a fifteen-minute intermission (and then two more!). Bressane quickly gets up, visibly annoyed, and questions the decision: "they stopped the film in the middle of the shot!"  

Not just any shot, I'll come back to it later. 

The little melee is quickly resolved. The long journey returns, after the forced intermission, in the scene already seen that patiently follows the gentleman who fixes the minutiae of a clock. When reviewing the broken time plane in this turbulent context, it is impossible not to think of something that had disappeared since the first lights began to be projected. I have (and do not wish to have) the slightest notion of how many hours have passed. The trip will continue without new accidents until the end and the neurosis of time will continue absent. What is present, on the other hand, is a rare type of time seduction. The absolute trance is the result of a musical conception by Rodrigo Lima, who conducts the trip with the tranquility of the great hypnotists. And so it will be until the end.


Delicacy does not mean monotony. Without much fanfare, the film's adventure takes on the facet of a game. Or many. One of them: to go through all of Bressane's filmography, in chronological order, starting with a long-take scene from each feature film. In this sequential river, there are very famous images, others almost unknown. The endless road of O Anjo Nasceu inevitably makes me want to rewatch the film already, but the urge passes as soon as the other beasts appear: Maria Gladys and Helena Ignez in strident color walking in a sunny Sá Ferreira; Guará, in grainy 16mm strangling four blondes in a London park; Helio Oiticica and Cildo Meireles in contrasted black and white setting up a plan to rob a bank while the odalisques of the lower east side dance and flirt; Grande Otelo appearing on the big rocks in front of the sea; Carlos Imperial creeping along the seashore with a knife stuck in his back; Jece Valadão chased by the shadow of the man with the camera in the rubble of Cinédia; Quincas Borba meeting Brás Cubas; Padre Antônio Vieira meeting death; Nietzsche receiving his highness; Alessandra Negrini fainting in the cemetery; the statue of Fernando Pessoa framed à la Ruiz from the reflection of water in a cup; Mariana Lima talking to the parrot. .. The game of this great little film within the film makes an admirer delirious between expectation and guessing: what image will come next? What will I see of Tabu (1982), of Miramar (1997), of Filme de Amor (2003)? The rule has its exceptions and awakens the dreamer: some films have more than one scene, not all are long takes, the chronological order can be broken.

The sequence, beyond the tasty amusement at the heart of the journey, makes me think of all the stages of a filmography: the rupture with Cinema Novo, the marginalized hits, the Oswaldian dive into Belair, the exile films, the return from exile, the entry into the scene of other Portuguese languages (the visionary Machadian irony, the sermons of the stars, the translations of original thoughts into other languages), the invention of a counterculture in the lap of the Retomada, the "boy meets woman" phase intensified in the 2010s... In that rare moment when the film delineates a biographical shadow, the compulsive aspect of the sequence of images turns the dreamer into a relentless glutton. I want to revisit everything now, but especially those works less projected in the theaters in recent years, such as O Rei do Baralho (1975), O Monstro Caraíba (1976), A Agonia (1977), O Gigante da América (1979).


The first shot of Face to Face in the chronological sequence of scenes frames Antero de Oliveira's character absolutely diminutive in a huge bibliographic archive. It is that shot that was interrupted in the middle for the forced intermission. This scene appears as a foreshadowing of what is in store: the journey takes another direction, something that resembles the construction of a huge catalog of recurring images.  

Wouldn't this shot, chosen among so many possible shots in this debut feature film, be a self-portrait of Rodrigo Lima in his meticulous investigation of the recurrences in the immensity of images created over several decades? Or, turning the hourglass around, a self-portrait of Julio Bressane, tireless researcher of the history of forms, in face of the multitude of cinematographic signs that, all this time, have longed for the road with no return that is the inscription on film? If this film always seems to me to be more than one film at the same time, it is natural that a self-portrait can simultaneously suggest the representation of two different creators. The work of organizing and reorganizing a collection, after all, is shared by the two filmmakers: how to catalog a galaxy and not be swallowed up? In the next shot, victory is announced with gunpowder and blood. In a destructive continuity, the same Antero de Oliveira - in another film from the 1960s (but in the same film of 2023!) - enters the house, kills his noisy challengers, and ends the performance dancing alone to an irreverent theme by Lamartine Babo. The galaxy begins to tear the costume from the catalog and the two directors, again in a double self-portrait onstage, celebrate the carnival: "life is like this, life is like this, weeping is free and I'm going to get it off my chest!"

It is at this moment, when the trappings of a frozen inventory are gloriously deflected, that the film seems to claim once and for all its affiliation with Galaxias. I think of the passage from one word to another in Haroldo de Campos' masterpiece, of the way each syllable seems to leap off the page, of the vertiginous impression of continuities and discontinuities between neighboring images in the revisitation of the Bressanian universe. The crooked rhymes, the echoes in a million timbres, and the broken repetitions frame the collection of hidden gestures (but not so much) filmed over decades. There is the suggestion of "a beginning, a restart, a nudge and a toss" in the sequences of mirrors, of skeletons, of clapboards, of images of Aperana street, of reverse movements, of "all the mistakes," of songs, of dances, of vulvas, of phalluses, of tongues. In this succession of galactic songs, where one sees thematic unity, one can also see an exuberant multiplicity of forms. Attracted by the same themes, Bressane's camera finds its style from the complexity: it frames, un-frames, super-frames; it approaches, distances, frames, deforms; it dances with, ignores dance, accompanies the actors, advances against the actors; it reveals epiphanies, contemplates anti-epiphanies…

Within this great Haroldian drive, other patron saints are summoned. In the relationship between unity and multiplicity, a flagrant Borgianism makes it clear that the same can become different without ever ceasing to be the same; in the relationship between the chaos of the galaxy and the cosmos of the catalog, Nietzchianism will present in a literally theoretical way, from a scene taken from Nietzsche's Days in Turin (2001), the conceptions about the two artistic impulses: the Apollonian and the Dionysian. And so, between the rule and the wandering, The Long Journey intensifies an incessant search since its first days, still in the 1960s: that of freeing the plan from the dungeon of narrative. Again the Galaxies: one after another one after another one after another one after another one. When the narrative comes, and it often comes with gusto, it is enunciated in its entirety by one character on one plane. A supernatural example: the scene in Beduíno (2018) in which Alessandra Negrini narrates, while gliding through the air, the misfortunes of a woman who resembles another already dead woman.


One of the film's haunting passages, the passage from one scene in O Monstro Caraíba in which Wilson Grey wakes up Carlos Imperial screaming ("wake up, Brazil!") to the other, which documents his grandson's perplexity with a fictitious spider in the bathroom at home, probably filmed with a cell phone camera. It is impossible not to imagine the whirlwind taking over the head of Lila Foster, who researches the amateur gesture in Bressane's cinema, watching all this.


In the session's presentation, Bressane says that the film gathers "twenty-seven figures of speech" from his cinema. His work has always reminded us that words do not decide to become images and get out of this with impunity. The idea of an adaptation can never be literal because in this transcriation between different artistic expressions there is always a relation of losses and gains, enough for everything to be transformed. Taking into consideration this creative (im)possibility, I think about what could be the figures of speech of a cinema? To retrace the long trip is essential so that one can rave in the appropriate place, the dark room, and imagine some inspiring nonsense: what is hyperbole, antithesis, personification, paradox, among other figurative adventures, in the Bressanian universe?

While the wolf of revision is not coming, other threats show up. Barthes, in his legendary inaugural class given at the College de France in January 1977, kicks the door in the introduction to the Semiology course and a few years before his death creates his own linguistic Salò. Power - he announces to the students - is a parasite of a trans-social organism and is inscribed, essentially, in language and in its obligatory expression, language. Between the "authority of assertion" and the "gregariousness of repetition", language is neither reactionary nor progressive: it is fascist. Fascism is not preventing from saying, it forces to say. In illuminating a path to freedom, albeit with our feet on the ground, he argues that we are left only to cheat with language and cheat at language. This salutary dodge, the occasional master concludes, allows us to hear them outside the bondage and power in which they are confounded, in the splendor of a permanent revolution of language called: literature.

Taking the risk, I think of the translation of anguishes from the literary repertoire and visualize a transcription of the problems and solutions in relation to the vices of language in cinema. I imagine one of the most famous ideas of Barthes' class in the voice of Bressane, as a starting point for a cinematographic revolution without parallel in our territory: what to do when I can never film but collecting what drags on the cinematographic image? I definitely embrace fiction, and then I can be sure that this is exactly what the bright-eyed teenager in the New York autumn mentalized in his face-to-face encounter with his first film camera. 

Another French correspondence, on a funeral occasion, appears on the horizon of language. Paul Vecchiali, the most felt dead man of the last few weeks. Wasn't he, although from another generation, the one who had the greatest existential affinity with Bressane's cinema? Each one with his chanchada, each one with his passion for the modern invisible in his country, each one with his blondes strangler (at the same time!), each one with his way of turning a seemingly simplistic boy meets girl into a drumbeat of the stars. Since I'm taking irresponsible liberties, I'll also risk a classic Vecchiali phrase in Bressane's mouth: "I usually say that my heart is in the 1930s and my head in the Nouvelle Vague." In the obituaries scattered on social networks, I read that the French director left one last film ready. It is called Good Morning, Language and is a tribute to Jean-Luc Godard.


How can you not love a film that makes me long for many images still during the projection? The long stretch dedicated to extirpating the galaxy from the rib of the catalog minimizes the recurrence of familiar scenes. Perhaps it is a reconfiguration of those scenes in the form of fiction. But there is no way. I miss, for example, the gentle persona of Rosa Dias in the seventies pilgrimages. 

It is with the death of a father that the long journey bursts the shackles of the cataloging game. An unexpected turn comes with images in Italy that document a visit to Antonioni's tomb. Then, in a magical editing stroke, of one who guesses where the gleam in the eye of the beholder wants to be, the film recovers an image that seemed to have been left behind. The Rose of the 1970s, standing motionless, is courted by Bressane's camera. The amorous eye of the filmmaker approaches, distances, envelops her, smells her feet, kisses her torso. A discreet cut will reveal another body in a similar frame: Maria Gladys' feet are greeted by the camera in A Agonia. Soon her striking gait will become a new image: Jece Valadão walking on the road in O Gigante da América.

The admirable sequence of the three images makes me certain that behind the apparent elaboration of a great collection, there is also a will to highlight the succession of metamorphoses. And then comes the obvious: if there is nostalgia, it is because there is presence. Before the end of the trip, a great joy, to realize that Rosa is here all the time. In the scenes in which she appears, of course, as well as in more literal metamorphoses (in the daughters, in the grandchildren, in Nietzsche, in the friends who share eroticism in an apartment), but also in seemingly distant images - in the caboclo who flees from hell, in the man on the fringes of civilization who strangles blondes? I then remember words that appear there at the beginning, a line from the character in Garoto (2014) that invades the soundtrack of the long trip: "I know a woman, she helps me, she helps me a lot, she has been nice to me for a long time, she is different, she is very different, let's go to her house". This movie is her house.


The lights of the famous tower flicker on a dark night. There comes a foreboding that the journey is nearing its end. The teenage grandson and grandparents walk the streets of Paris. Masks date the images with the mark of the plague. This new displacement, which places the film once and for all in our times, seduces the cinephilic memory and opens the cliché's sinkhole. In an imaginary soundtrack, I hear in the movie theater Humphrey Bogart's voice with all that indecorous charm: we'll always have Bressane. I listen once more: we'll always have Bressane. Another: we'll always have Bressane. In the following days, the phrase keeps resonating, but with a variation, a significant change in time - in fact we've always had Bressane! The explosion of stars in the one thousand and one nights of The Long Journey of the Yellow Bus also inspires a fundamental observation: this is the only filmmaker of invention in our history (and the only one among those who don't live in the rich centers of the world) who films practically without interruption from the beginning of his career. There are masterpieces directed by Julio Bressane in the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, the 2000s, the 2010s, the 2020s. It is impossible to watch this film and then not want to go out for a drink with the other accomplices of the trip.


The full moon appears among the night clouds, a foreign figure among the varied repetitions of the filmmaker's language medleys. Perhaps it appears at the end to remind us of two things: that Bressane is an incredibly daytime director; and that after a million scenes, there is a hopeful warning, a kind of "you haven't seen everything yet" that provokes the desire for new images - it is known that there is already a new feature filmed, O Leme do Destino. At the last turn, the definitive metamorphosis: the night is now the face of Rosa Dias, who navigates the Mediterranean with Bressane's camera in the Yellow Bus days. What does she imagine when staring at the horizon in the Moroccan sea? That one day this trip will inspire another trip that spans more than 400 minutes, 60 years, almost 40 films, her friends, her daughters, her grandchildren, and so many lives? In the last encounter, the most beautiful one in two of this film. La mére and the sea, the matter of the dancing images and the mater-comparison of the great journey. In the "rigorous and free book", love points the way to invention. At the bottom of La mére, the wild waters sway past, present, and future and, tuning the movement of the boats to the movement of the galaxy, revolves also our most inspiring curse, the one that forces us to be experimental or not at all.

April, 2023

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