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By Ellen Blumenstein, Jean-Louis Comolli, Céline Condorelli, Doris von Drathen, Nuria Enguita May,

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But the figuration and locating of this world must refuse to re-naturalise the very thing that ruined the world: the present-day reign of merchandise. The abasement of the weak and the ruination of the losers — the obsessive concerns of the persecutory logic governing competition — are taken up by art as if they were an opening onto grace and a direct path to beauty, beyond good and evil, the opposite of any form of miserabilism: the grace of the weak, the beauty of those without any power, the angelical forms of those who are ‘nothing’.

Rather, it is much more closely linked to the lenses and the physical transmission of light onto whatever support these are then inscribed onto. I would tentatively call this ‘testimonial realism’. (3) A third aspect of realism is produced by disproportionate elements within the narrative. In his famous description of the reality effect in Gustave Flaubert’s A Simple Heart (1877), Roland Barthes ascribes this effect to the numerous details in Mme Aubain’s room — details that do not have any narrative or psychological purpose but, as he puts it, ‘finally say nothing but this: we are the real’.

4 For although O Sangue was a small and independent production, it was made with a team, a script, actors, lighting technicians, an assistant director and so on. Costa felt uncomfortable with the burdens and impositions of a regular film production, but it took him until In Vanda’s Room to find an alternative. The two films he made in between, Casa de Lava (1994) and Ossos, were shot in colour, but the basic parameters of production stayed the same: he still operated with a bulky production network, used 35mm stock and worked with a director of photography.

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