News from the Locarno Festival

The Song of Scorpions

Piazza Grande

The Song of Scorpions


With its horizons and mirages the Indian desert has long seemed a purely visionary place, an almost other-wordly expanse that dilates the dimensions of space and time and alters human ones. The desert, as the young healer Nooran (played by Golshifteh Farahani, returning inspired from her American experience in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson) knows, can offer rest and cradle you between its endless dunes. But it is also an unknown territory where mysterious poisons circulate and where lovers bring their forbidden music to culmination. The scorpions with their venomous sting that hide in the sand are no different from the hostile destinies of life, which is why Nooran uses the ancient technique of the scorpion’s song, a melody whose notes adhere to the infected venereal flow and slowly clean it. A sweet and perpetual mantra, fighting against an erratic multitude of conflicts. On the one side, care and love, on the other betrayal, revenge and sacrifice. Almost like a classic American melodrama, Anup Singh’s new film invites the viewer to identify with the ups and downs of Nooran, married to the same man who ordered her obscene rape (played by the great Indian actor Irrfan Kahn) and ready to die rather than dispel the offence. The exotic, folkloristic setting is actually a façade behind which hides a nocturnal, corruscating filmic desire (the chiaroscuros that shape the violent Indian nights like noir architecture are splendid). In a furious crescendo the film follows the decision of the Lady of the Scorpions to sacrifice even her unborn child, transforming the purifying melody into a death song. As in an Indian King Vidor, the two lovers come together in the desert for one last tragic duel in the sun.

Lorenzo Esposito
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