MIFF 2013: O Apostolo – The Apostle

14 Aug

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By Gabby Easter

A gothic tale of the living dead, lost souls and redemption, The Apostle is a spooky stop-animation with a hint of a twisted Grimm’s fairy tale.

Ramon, voiced by Galician Carlos Blanco, is a second generation thief who escapes from prison, driven by an insatiable thirst for hidden treasure that he hopes will be his way out of his old life. Posing as a pilgrim on the path to Santiago de Compostela, a strange old man leads Ramon awry, promising a good nights feed and a decent rest. Don Cesareo (Xose Manuel Olveira), the creepy village priest, complete with a larger-than-head nose and a Vampiric feel, screams evil and untrustworthy, but Ramon is unaware of the threat until it’s too late. The quiet little town turns out to harbour secrets more sinister than just stolen jewels.

Meanwhile, and yes, it’s a typical ‘meanwhile’ scenario, the Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela is on the hunt for some high profile pilgrims who have mysteriously gone missing. Paul Naschy voices the impudent, corrupt archpriest, intent on working his way up to papacy in style and comfort, with a penchant for fine wine and good food.

The characters are caricatures in a somewhat predictable plot, but the suspense, humour and craftily made sets are the redeeming features in the first stop-animation to come out of Spain. The not-so-subtle swings at the Catholic Church, almost entirely made through the Archbishop, are balanced out by heavy themes of redemption and salvation.

Almost three years in the making, and partially financed through Crowdfunding, the dedication and detail put into director Fernando Cortizo’s debut feature film is easily recognised, with a Goya nomination and a steady run of screenings at film festivals across the globe. Despite a shaky plot and the occasional technical mishap, Cortizo has produced a stop-animation that’s a little too spooky for the little ones, but eerie and entertaining enough for an older crowd as well.

Gabby Easter lives in Melbourne and writes for Time Out magazine.

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