SI MUERO ANTES DE DESPERTAR
Sog.: dal racconto If I Die Before Awakening di William Irish [Cornell Woolrich]. Scen.: Alejandro Casona. F.: Pablo Tabernero. M.: José Gallego. Scgf.: Gori Muñoz. Mus.: Julián Bautista. Int.: Néstor Zavarce (Lucho Santana), Blanca del Prado (la madre di Lucho), Florén Delbene (ispettore Santana), Homero Cárpena (il mostro), María Angélica Troncoso (Julia Losada), Martha Quintela (Alicia Miranda). Prod.: Estudios San Miguel. 35mm. D.: 73’. Bn.
The prayer behind this movie’s title, popular in the protestant Anglo-Saxon world since the 18th century (“Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray the Lord my soul to keep / If I should die before I wake / I pray the Lord my soul to take”), was hardly known in Argentina so its morbid tone created a hybrid allure to the adaptation of William Irish’s story. Originally conceived of as an episode of No abras nunca esa puerta, the story underwent so much development that by adding some sequences, especially in the first part, it could have been released as a film on its own. (The other two episodes were adaptations of other stories by Irish: Somebody on the Phone and Hummingbird Comes Home).
In the second part of the film Christensen focuses on the child’s fear while pursuing a child killer to save a classmate, and the story’s latent driving forces, the filmmaker’s same inclinations and Pablo Tabernero’s lighting create an atmosphere in which the exterior shots “were dark with something more than night” (Chandler). Leaving a trail of buttons like Little Thumb’s breadcrumbs adds the mood of a fairy tale with a sinister twist. Sequences that make the viewer forget the veneration of the police, which was compulsory at that time in Argentine film and could even be irritating like in Fregonese’s Apenas un delincuente.
These films by Christensen were not isolated examples at the time. There were El pendiente (Klimowsky, 1951), also based on a story by Irish (The Earring), and La bestia debe morir (Viñoly Barreto, 1952) from Nicholas Blake’s The Beast Must Die. The true gem, however, of Argentine film noir is Viñoly Barreto’s 1953 movie El vampiro negro, loosely inspired by Lang’s M.
Da: Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales.
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