Central Station (1998) – Analysis
The Cinema reminds the viewers of undying hope. The film is based on the original idea by Walter Salles, and the movie directed by him. The movie stands out in its reliance with reality and doesn’t render itself to embellishments. No where the characters react dramatically and their decision roots from the general human behaviours and does not look like cinematic overtures.
The characters seem to be etched directly from the real life and through them Walter examines the human behavior with all its colours. In the opening credits the directors gives a clear picture of mundane reality of life in Brazil, mainly focusing on the level of illiteracy that prevails. In this backdrop he builds the relationship between the lead characters. There are many European films that portray adult-kid relationships painted with sexuality. Yet, Walter stands out of this crowd, genuinely presenting us the platonic love that sprouts between Dora and Josué.
Dora is an embittered spinster who has a bitter childhood, which we learn through the short conversation she has with Josué during the bus journey. So we may not expect humaneness from her. She never feels morally responsible for the kid for a good time in the film. Her reactions and aspirations are just replications of any human being who might encounter those situations. She is not angelic any moment in the movie and that makes the character special.
The boy too, from the beginning, is unaccustomed with Dora. He is a short tempered, ever bullying nine years old who portrays the mentality of the kids of that age. He speaks pseudo maturely often (his short conversation with Mr.Bené, the truck driver in motel’s rest room) trying hard to emphasis that he has grown up. He takes his freedom to demand things to Dora revealing his boyishness.
Fernanda Montenegro as Isedora renders a heart winning performance. She is capable of revealing the helplessness, anguish and embitterment of the character just in her eyes and doesn’t give away anything that might spoil the features of the character. Vinícius de Oliviera as Josué delivers a class performance par his age. His maturity in handling his character and talent- in spite of not being a professional actor- in delivering the character demands is creditable. Director Walter discovered him in the airport shining shoes.
Walter Carvalho does a decent job as the Cinematographer helping the director to realize his dreams on screen. His camera keeps the viewer busy while it braces through the crowds of Rio and handles the creative challenge of any cinematographer- filming in low light with fineness. The music supplements the narration in many places adding up the dramatic tone of the film and evokes the emotions of the viewers by mostly delivering pleasing music through stringed instruments.
The film opened in the Berlin Film festival in 1998 with good reception. The film bagged the Golden and Silver Berlin Bear awards for the Director and the lead actor Fernanda (for best actress). Along with a BEFTA win in 1999 under the Best non-English film it found two nominations in the 1999 Oscors. ( It missed the Oscar to Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful”)
Central Station is the second feature of director Walter Salles. The richness in the plot is in its simplicity coupled with sensibility. It is not easy to deliver a work that has very less cinematic twists yet grips the viewer and engages him to think. The film pronounces the beauty that lies in our, so thought, mundane lives. The film captures the magic that underlies in everyday life with sincerity and kindles hope and love for fellow human in the hearts of the viewers. This is a film that doesn’t ask for any preparation for viewing it but just takes you right away into it once you engage with it. Towards the end what you are left with is a refreshing, heart filling experience that will linger for few days.