The International Writers Magazine: Film

Los Amantes del Cíclo Polar (The Lovers of the Arctic Circle),
Director: Julio Medem
Production Company: Le Studio Canal+ : 1998
Cast: Fele Martinez, Najwa Nimri, Nancho Novo
Gabriella Davis

hat is written on the paper aeroplane we still do not know. The idea that a plot can revolve so greatly around an object whose content the spectator does not know of is genius. It seems like a principle of dramatic irony in reverse, the audience is left clueless, or, not clueless, because we know the influence it has on the characters, yet the relationships which that paper aeroplane brings will shape the film and its effect on the viewer.

This example is but one of the examples of magicality that has ‘Los Amantes del Cíclo Polar’, by Julio Medem, the director of the successful 2001 film ‘Lucía y el Sexo’. Otto and Anna, the two protagonists, lead us in to a beautiful story of fate and coincidence. A love story that lasts from when they meet, as young children, to their late twenties, the drama will seduce you with its romance. Alongside their narrative follows a story of both their pasts, family photographs and stories that have been retold for generations. Magic, and its many true forms, is present throughout the film, and coincidence seems to serve almost as one of the main characters to the unravelling of the plot. This is one of those films that will remind you how beautifully tragic life can really be.

Images and scenes from the film will stay in your mind for days. Paper aeroplanes, extreme close-ups of human eyes, beautiful cinematography; all this will have you captivated by the film. Fele Martínez, who plays young Otto, is very believable, as is Najwa Nimri who plays the young female lead, Anna. Medem presents us with a talented cast, namely Otto and Anna, and the role of Otto’s father, Álvaro (played by Nancho Novo). Charming dialogue, magnificent photography and some stunning art direction all add to the well plotted storyline to give us an engrossing film. It is hard to find a fault in the production, aside from the fact that it, unfortunately, as all good things do, reaches an end. What the film teaches is about love, and how it seems to follow and get where it intends to, even if you run from it.

Such a powerful production is yet to be found in recent Spanish cinema, Julio Medem is sure to become one of the most important Spanish directors of recent times. Each ingredient of the film is perfectly added together to create a perfect sense of tension, suspense, passion and a great element of surprise. ‘Los Amantes del Cíclo Polar’ is worth watching and will definitely become one of the favourites. Do not be fooled by the title translation; the original Spanish actually makes referential innuendos to a part of the human eye, which has an important part in the film’s plot.

The soundtrack complements the narrative perfectly, and the melodic tones provide a perfect backdrop for some of the sepia-toned camera work. You will cross the world with both the characters, following each in their directions, and will feel as entranced as them by all the coincidences that appear. When the mood changes, the scenery subtly changes alongside it, thus helping our comprehension of the story. This all serves to heighten our experience in living the film, as we join Otto and Anna, and all their stories, all the way to the Artic Circle.

© Gabriella Davis November 2006

Gabriella Davis is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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