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La Chimera

Dir: Alice Rohrwacher, 2023, 131 mins, Cert: 15

Sun 9 June // 17:00
Tue 11 June // 20:00

Tickets: £5 (full)

A filmmaker constantly seeking to push the scope of cinema, Alice Rohrwacher’s latest film is no exception. Having made its world premiere at Cannes, La Chimera stirs together history, romance and archaeology – with a dash of the supernatural – into a dreamy tonic made for those ready to slip into another realm. 

Set in the 1980s, in the former Etruscian landscape of rural Italy, the film follows a vagabond-type character called Arthur (Josh O’Connor); an Englishman who embodies the spirit of the Romantics, he is searching for something he can’t quite grasp. As an archaeologist, he makes use of his unique skills to aid a ragtag group of tomboroli – local graverobbers – to find ancient tombs filled with artefacts to sell on the black market. To the locals these graves are sacred, believing curses follow those who enter. But Arthur, who is mourning the loss of his love Beniamina, is less concerned with the monetary value of the objects, using the digs to search for the door to the afterlife – of which myths speak – where he imagines reuniting with her. A cloud of mystery follows him as he walks the line between the living and the dead, between reality and trickery, between the past and the present. Bringing him into the present is Italia (Carol Duarte), a single mother who befriends him and opens his eyes to the world in new ways. 

With stylistic references to cinema history, as with all her work Rohrwacher uses the past to ask questions of the present, challenging us to consider how what we do and what we stand for now might impact the future. What will archaeologists dig up in the future, and what will it say about us and the values of our time?