The best offer, as the director Giuseppe Tornatore infers, is a love story developed through the weaving of a thriller, and where the mystery has his throne. As his usual, he takes something, characters, scenes, daily happenings, and stretches them to their limits, sometimes until he sees his movie character making a mistake.
The director in an interview says “telling this movie, writing it, thinking it, producing it, has enjoyed me a lot, moreover, handling with the interaction between this old man whose personality still has teens shyness about women, and a young girl whose fear for the open spaces delimits her behind the safe and known walls of her majestic, antique house, thrilled me as well. My movie is not a thriller, it seems such a genre, but it’s not. Its dramaturgy has been taken from the dramaturgy of the falling in love. Mystery and attraction for the object of love still doesn’t know, that the protagonist might discover being the one and only for whom anything can be done. Here, the life unexpectedly turns and the main character might finally learns how to love, even if the change results high.” Geoffrey Rush (Virgil Oldman) says about his movie figure, “my character also works as an hitter auction so this is a guy with a big ego and a tension in an auction room, is like great courtroom dramas. He also sells the estates of families of antique furnishings and etc. and in this particular situation he meets this very troubled woman. And they strike up a very complex ad difficult, and constantly changing relationship.”
The mystery around Claire Ibetson and her phobia which obliges her in her house, increases Virgil’s morbid attraction for the “unrevealed” girl, thus a vey complex relation is constantly fomented and then it will drastically change his way of behaving about life, and the others.
The point of view is one, the entire dramaturgy is told by Virgil’s p.v., who is the absolute protagonist of the opera.
Main character of this cinematographic opera is Virgil Oldman, a respected antiquarian, valued art expert, and famous hitter auction, characterized a strong inasmuch as particular personality. Professionalism and straightness built in years a beamy/radiant carrier, that made born several myths around this untouchable and haughty figure. Never seen with the gently company of a woman, rumors and chats wafted about his sentimental life and his probable misogyny. Giving more power and regard to him, is certainly the presence of classic music, which since the second minute gives beat to the movie.
The unexpected appearance of a young woman turns drastically Virgil’s life, turning him from a passive spectator, who possesses and “collects” life without living it.
In the evolution of the story, since the man “meets” Claire, there is the recurrent presence of some gears, found in the basement of the girl’s mansion. Any time Virgil enters in the villa, he gets a wheel, or a nail, or a washer, etcetera. These mechanisms will be reassembling by Robert, until the complete reconstruction of the famous Vocanson’s humanoid. The first gear the protagonist finds can be the revealing object, the principle through a deep research of him starts, and that conveys in a gradual discovery of all the unknown and suppressed part living in him. Rebirth, revelation, knowledge of love and sexuality, and of his soul, a path surely not without suffering and pain.
THE CONCEPT OF SPYING
The entire movie is a game of sights – a particular high presence of close up gives rhythm to the narration, and increases the power of this game of sights, developing a personal emotional connection between the public and the movie characters – . Since watching the movie a second time, the details that the eyes can catch are numerous, once is particularly relevant. The camera objective opens on Virgil evaluating the value of a basement. He lists and defines all the items there confined and forgotten, when something suddenly calls his attention. It’s a piece of old wood that will be show for the last time when, an undetermined lack of period later, he receives papers regarding the cleaning of what will be discovered being a Vallard’s painting. During this scene, a sequence of frames shows the draw on the wood piece: just an eye looks directly in the camera through an uncovered fragment in the dirty.
An eye contact is the first physical contact that Virgil has with Claire too. Indeed, she uses to use spying any visitors through a little invisible fissure in the walls of the house.
Interesting is noticing that the wall, where the fissure is located, is painted with the trompe-l’œil technique, painting genre which guide in the observer the illusion of watching real 3D objects, that are no more than two-dimensional draws on a plain surface. Again something that deceives the sight, and doesn’t allow reaching the true essence of things.
One of Virgil’s usual acquaintances is Robert, a young talented restorer that Oldman admires for his devotion to his job and with whom Virgil was usual discussing about Da Vinci’s artifacts and others interesting mechanisms. Attracted by the only art form that slipped out his domain, as Virgil says, “about reviving things no more alive.” One of the routine that made escaping the hitter auction from his own loneliness. Envy for Robert’s intriguing behavior with women and desire for an oppressed wish to learn about women, pushed Virgil to move hear and sight on the exchange of words happening behind his shoulder between Robert an one of the numerous girl. He is a key figure in the evolving happenings, because he is the one who Virgil goes to in order to receive love affairs’ suggestions. He will be the unifier of the two “fires.” He teaches to the scrupulous antiquarian the courage of the unconstraint.
For instance, the first time Virgil breaks his rules is when he stops in Claire’s living room, waiting for her to come out from the personal room. He hides behind classic sculptures, and he spies through a fissure between those two marble bodies.
VIRGIL'S SECRET ROOM, BEHIND AN OBSESSION ANOTHER OBSESSION
In the first part of the movie the spectator follow Virgil in his house, discovering his searched loneliness. He sits on a white chair at the white table of his white kitchen – whose color conveys and exponentially increases the feeling of emptiness and solitude in which the hitter auction lives – where the only extra presence, in an even empty silverware room, is what he eats and the painting he has bought few hours before.
In the early immediate moment at the end of the dinner he moves into the bare white corridor lived just by a rare presence of sculptures and paintings and studded by doors – a house museum, that amplify how Virgil lives abstruse from reality, in an undefined time-space – . Here he stops in front of one of them and opening it the public might be thrilled by the enormous collection of gloves possessed by the character.
His obsession for gloves, wear in any season and any time, and taken off just to pet the adulated art operas, estranges Virgil form the world. The gloves are a screen that this eclectic figure builds between him and anything, and anyone whose blindly trustiness on him has never been rewarded. Virgil is the maker of his own isolation. – Dinners consumed in restaurants already known and accurately selected were spent in solitude and in an aseptic stiffness; moreover, his tastes, already in the maîtres’ minds, were satisfied without the sparkle of a doubt, and in the only way accepted, thus through rituals in which obeisance and reverence where the exclusively social relation with Virgil.
Coming back to the scenes, behind this “obsession”, another door will show the most magnified, marvelous, terrible painting collection a single might have in such a houseroom. The power and emotional impact on an art lover is unique. Virgil Oldman house is a Pandora’s box.
The secret safety vault is an altar; all the walls are completely covered by operas in which just females faces are represented. Interesting is noticing that all the women’s eyes directly create a connection with the public, connection that enchants Virgil for hours and makes he sitting on his white couch in the middle of the room, delighted by them and by those enigmatic silent sights frozen for the eternity, which seems returning him the admiration and adoration he gives them. Just in this moment the perception of the elegancy, sophistication, and feeling of respect for the character, changes; Virgil needs, Virgil must possess all this beauty and rarity, although the lies he builds to achieve what he will. Purloiner and usurper of magnificence, that he only enjoy; therefore, the paintings are jealousy guarded in a space beyond suspicion.
The woman he has never met, the lack of real love, even rejected from who could have been a friend – Virgil doesn’t have friends, albeit one is always around him, giving suggestions and donating trustiness, the public feel the coldness that Virgil can’t overcome -, it’s all in his “box of love”. It could be stated that the protagonist identifies, or pursues in those faces exactly what he cannot have from the real life.
Virgil senses the art opera as a superior soul, thus as something immense that crosses the physical limits, and faces the infinitive. “I’ve loved them all, and they loved me back.” (Virgil Oldman, 01:45:25)
The 49ish minute of the cinematographic film is a crucial point. Virgil is in his secret artificial cave, contemplating a new “her”, when the cellular phone rings, on the other side is Claire; talking to her, he sits, and here the director genially starts playing with the camera. Shifting between Virgil’s face and the portrayed women’s expressions, while Claire’s voice cuddles the scene, Tornatore gives to the public a clear interpretation: the hitter auction has started conveying his infatuations to her, Claire is the physical transposition of the woman that in his collection travels and lives among centuries that “taught [him] to wait for [her].” Claire will be the very first person to enter in the room of the paintings, Virgil’s real and only one woman ever loved.
THE LAST SCENE
Virgil travels to Prague, Czech Republic, where he rents an apartment, right in the Square Clock that Claire talked to him about. He will go and sit at a table of the restaurant she mentioned him called Night and Day. The place is entirely furnished and decorated by clocks and mechanisms, might it be the image of Virgil’s rescued soul, now in peace after the sickness produced by the shock of the theft of his extremely high valued art collection by the three people he most trusted, or was related? In here the end is opened, might he wait for her, the only woman he has ever loved and opened his timorous, inasmuch as cold heart?
Many philosophers during the twentieth century have reflected about humanity and forms of communication, titling the human being as a communicating and social being. People always look for others, in any kind of shape it will represent.
Nowadays the “relations” are built through websites, chats, shared pictures and commented posts. Everything is unreal. The new century is all about electronics, and in consequence, in following the progress, all the types of communication developed too. Everyone several times has heard and seen, and lived sometimes, the new form of connection. The first impact at the beginning has been positively shocking and attracting, as for every brand new product, or idea, then people has realized what they were dealing with, and the cons started to be noticed.
People’s craving for the other has been completely satisfied: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and so on, are virtual screens behind which, each person feeds the innate desire to possess the other without being touched. Seeing the other without being seen. Anyone creates his/her own “Virgil’s sanctuary.”
The lack of communication in the movie is amplified by Virgil’s willing to not have a cellular phone. He is totally abstruse from the interaction with the other from himself; furthermore, he even doesn’t answer personally at a costumer’s first call, leaving the job to one of his many assistants. Just Claire pops this bubble of isolation; from the second half of the movie Virgil will have permanently a cellular phone in his pockets, only to permit her to reach him by any time.