An unconventional portrait of a small village trapped out of time, located on the Galicia-Portugal border, Eloy Enciso’s Arraianos, is one of those rare and special films where description is inadequate: like the landscape of the village of Arraianos itself, it’s something to experience.
Staged Straubian moments of fiction stand alongside documentary moments of everyday village life, with the nameless “actors” farming, sitting in the local bar and singing traditional local songs in their specific regional tongue and telling old wives’ tales.
We are never far away from nature—the noisy presence of animals is inescapable—as is the enveloping forest, a place that takes on mythical qualities. But storytelling may be the key, as the film can be said to be visualizing oral history—one that’s needed, as at one point, when an old lady starts to sing a song, she can’t even recall the words. The fictional elements of the piece come from a play by Galician writer Marinhas del Valle, O bosque (The Forest), written in the 1960s as a parable of Franco's dictatorship, but also a great portrait of the Galician soul, their tragic existentialism.
The film’s documentary elements thus present a more frontal portrait of the soul of these autarkic people. As the seasons change and the signs of apocalypse grow—a fire rages in the forest—one man promises salvation, while another proclaims the end of the world is coming… In this moving work, memory floats in space, and a way of life dies before one’s eyes.Mark Peranson