by Tony d’Ambra
“The industrialized capitalist world has become an outside world of impenetrable material connexions and relationships”
– Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art (1959)
Isle of Flowers is a 15 minute documentary film by Brazilian film-maker Jorge Furtado. This short is a fast-talking polemic on money capitalism and the failure of the human imagination. The critique is a sardonic ‘educational’ treatise on the food chain, consumerism, injustice, and how free markets operate. A spoiled tomato discarded by a middle-class housewife is tracked from a tomato farm to the slop fed to pigs on the Ilha das Flores, where the garbage not good enough for pigs is given to the landless poor in strictly controlled 5-minute intervals. There is no dialog only a voice-over narration.
On this trip we segue onto related topics as the story progress, in a canny prefiguring of the world-wide-web, where clicking on one hyperlink leads to another. The pace is frenetic with many scenes made up of dynamic collages of printed media and vivid unsettling scenes offering a banal yet forceful commentary on the theme. The narration is deliberately redundant and almost indifferent, and this technique enforces the visual irony. There is an element of the surreal as we are confronted with graphic imagery in the segues as juxtapositions to the common-place narrative which follows the food chain as metaphor. A metaphor of social hierarchies and oppressive imperatives. The soundtrack includes snatches of music as an effective counterpoint, and is most powerful over the closing scenes when a plaintive electric rock guitar riff ratchets up the emotional intensity.
Furtado is not so much portraying deliberately malevolent actions but the insularity of the bourgeoisie, who are protected not only from the stink and disease of their rotting waste, but from the realities of existence at the edge of an unequal society where pigs as a commodity rank higher than the poor who must scavenge after the fat porkers. Eisenstein move over.