Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Orozco The Embalmer (2001)

The first time I saw this film was not long after the death of my mom. I have no idea why I would watch this in the aftermath of a loved one, but I did. Weirdly this film kind of helped me get through some of what I was feeling. I think because it helped put some stuff in perspective. I don't really suggest that one watch this in time of grief, however it kind of puts my feelings toward the film in perspective.

This is the story of Orozco, an embalmer in Columbia. Located in a poor and crime riddled village, Orzco provides his services for people on the downside of life. We watch as bodies are brought in to his shop and he prepares them for their funerals. As Orozco works he talks about life, his job and the people he serves. We also get to see another embalmer in the same town at work.

Clearly not for all tastes...rather most tastes, this is an in your face matter of fact document of the work of one man preparing the dead for burial. There is no cutaways, no trick shots, nothing to hide the work on the earth remains of those brought in (The film was shot on one video camera which is just pointed to record what was happening in front of it. There are no fancy anything, just a stepped up "home movie"). If you don't want to see how bodies are prepared for burial in a poor country do not see this film (its very graphic with literally blood and guts and other things). What you see is, in all probability, is a variation as to what may happen to you or a loved one one day and if you don't want to see what that entails don't look. Its tough going.

Listed by some as a horror film, the film really isn't (though what happens maybe considered horrific). This is a document of the work of a man who cares for his the people he services. You see the care he takes with each person making them look better in death then they may have looked in life. I was shocked to see how a body looking more like a doll would come in and in the time its in Orozco's hands the whole demeanor would change from thing back into a person seemingly asleep.

As you watch the film the embalming falls away and all that remains is the man himself. Orozco the man is the reason to watch the film, not the shocking images. He seems to have been a very nice man (he died after the film was completed) who seems to have been made more than a bit sad by his job and his surroundings. His take on life is unique and understandable and what ever you call it, dark, bleak, sad, it is in many ways more real than that of the lives we see on TV or in our daily interactions.

As the film went on I kept wondering if I will be lucky enough to have someone as caring as Orozco work on me when I pass over. Its a strange thought, but one can't help but ponder when viewing a film as stark as this about the end of life.

Recommended for those with strong constitutions and wishing to see a intriguing portrait of a man at work.

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