The Passion and Tragedy of Michelangelo
A drama set in the small town of Penablanca in Chile, portrays the corrupt relationship between religion and politics, and the crucial transition from boy to man, evident in the character Miguel Ángel Poblete.
Directed by Esteban Larrain, the story demonstrates the importance of faith and belief and its effect on the ethnic culture of Chilean everyday life. A very interesting yet serious atmosphere is set throughout the film with a hint of mystery which leaves the audience wondering and guessing what is the truth and what is the lie. Larrain clearly uses this to reflect reality of the 1980s and to demonstrate people’s freedom of belief during that time period in which the film was set.
The storyline focuses on the teenage boy, Miguel Angel, who claims to the town that he can see the Virgin Mary and is her chosen “son” for communicating between her and the people. The film is perceived through the point of view of the priest of Penablanca, Father Ruiz Tagle. A down to earth, humble priest who wants nothing more than to help people, begins to doubt the validity of these events of religious fervors which take place on the mountain of Penablanca. He and the town’s journalist attempt to investigate who is behind these affairs in order to put a stop to this hoax. Meanwhile the Chilean government uses their power over Miguel Angelo and the church to brainwash the people of the town as part of a capitalist propaganda to make them believe that the government is correct.
The fact that this film is based on the influence of a true story is what makes this movie even more tragic and sad as the audience watch this teenage boy’s childhood and innocence get wasted. His unstable mental state causes him to exploit his childhood and experience the coming-of-age stage way too early by building a confusing homosexual desire towards his friend and his priest.
This secretive yet unspoken desire engages the audience as a twist on the whole storyline.Being an orphan from an early age, Miguel Angel looks up to the Virgin Mary as a form of guidance and a mother figure. The whole theme of reality and belief is most evident in Miguel Angel’s character who, at the end of the hoax, still continues to believe that he can speak to the Virgin Mary and wishes to commit suicide in order to be with her.
A mockery of people’s beliefs and a misuse of power are represented through Miguel Angel’s character and demonstrate how the church and the government cannot work together. His breakdown represents this as he gets shunned by the community and is hated by everyone.
What was meant to be a simple life for Miguel Angel, who only wanted to be a part of something, in the end becomes one of abuse and oppression.
A simple yet such a complex movie which expresses the religious aspect of Latin culture and the extent of people’s beliefs as well as the dishonest work of the political government, provides a very informative and fascinating story as well as a beautiful meditation on religion.