Gael García Bernal explores the political power of poetry in his new film Neruda
"He is the emblem of a whole generation of poets all over the world and of artists all over the world that were very political," says Gael García Bernal of Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda. Bernal's latest film Neruda, out this Friday, is a metafictional story based upon the 1948 manhunt of the poet-politician who goes into hiding after Chile outlaws communism. Bernal plays the inspector Óscar Peluchonneau who is tasked with capturing the fugitive.
By doing this film, Bernal realized that there are many people like Neruda who spawned change in government by channeling their emotion through poetry and then into politics. Many of the freedoms we enjoy today are thanks to people like that and Bernal explains that Neruda's poems stand out because they "excite and move people to act and to be part of a movement and to achieve equality."
But this film is not a biopic. "We encounter ourselves in the Nerudian world where we take certain elements from reality but then we just completely invent the whole thing," says Bernal. The film does not aim to be historically accurate but it does grab certain details from Neruda's life. Bernal explains that the poet loved to read crime novels, so they would take that detail and then exploit it. "We take a Nerudian attitude towards reinvention," says Bernal and that means to live many lives within your own.
"Poetry in its literal form is already coloured," Bernal points out and that's why sometimes it's hard to set an incredible poem to right music. Bernal says that "film is poetry now" and it should be artistic and experimental. But there are challenges in combining two manifestations of the same art. "If you put the literal words of poetry into film it sounds like you're putting bread with bread," he explains. There is a redundancy. Yet in this movie, they have somehow been able to combine poetry and film successfully and that amazes Bernal.
WEB EXTRA | Watch the trailer for Neruda below.