The Colors of the Mountain is a
gripping drama and an often humorous comedy at
the same time. Director Carlos Cesar Arbelaez has delivered an
powerful debut fiction film (the filmmaker has made many documentaries
years). The story takes place during a time of unrest in Colombia. The
characters consist of a young boy named Manuel, his family, and his
The film often feels like a slice-of-life approach to storytelling and
story also considers the way in which war and politics has an effect on
and community without ever making this story become a political film
This is a film that is unabashedly more concerned with telling a moving
one that can move and inspire others, than it is something that aims to
scathing debates. These qualities increase the wonders of the
even greater heights.
normal kid and all he wants to do with his free time is to play soccer
friends and to have a normal life. His friends are likewise just as
with the sport and they are always eager to play a game of soccer with
Unfortunately, the harsh life that surrounds them often brings many
that will affect them in ways they can't fully understand at such a
father is afraid of joining in on political meetings that could lead to
being enlisted as a soldier in the war. We learn as an audience that
this fear comes from what happened to his father - which was in all
death. Another reason why he is likely afraid of the possibilities is
doesn't want to leave his wife and children behind. Yet he is a
and one who refuses to leave the country for his family's safety. His
the land and the home where he was raised and lived in all these years
powerful as to prevent him from looking to these alternative solutions.
instead hides from forces that could lead to his death but at the same
must also avoid the rebels who are creating havoc in the land. His wife
equally great fears - for the safety of her children, her husband, and
These are scary times in Columbia. The countryside is a beautiful image
green color and beauty but there is much hardship at the same time.
eventually leads to Manuel losing a new soccer ball he received as a
gift. What happened to it? It landed, astonishingly, around a mine
was placed in the soccer field where all the children played their
adults speculate that the rebels placed the mines to try and explode
helicopters that used to land in the area. The safety is uncertain for
in the area by this point.
enlists the help of his closest friends Julian and Poca Luz to try and
his soccer ball - the only thing that seems to bring him real happiness
all the sadness surrounding his family's well-being. All three of the
boys want to get the soccer ball back so that they can just have some
paints an interested contrast between these kids who simply wish to
together and the adults who seem to be at war with each other and for
ultimate purpose? Tragedy seems to be the only sure result.
of the countryside all attend a school to learn and develop the way all
children should. Education is one of the most important things in this
and no child should be deprived of one. This school is barren though...
supplies are running out. They have a teacher who helps guide them
of the surrounding dangers of the area, but with little aid and
doesn't seem to paint a pretty picture of the additional hardships
youth. In one pivotal scene we see that Manuel is more concerned with
pictures than with working on a math equation. Yet there is actually
beauty in that idea. Manuel is the kind of child who may want to become
artist someday. He shows a great deal of interest in art and there are
moments in the film where he seems to look at the sky and wonder about
types of things that go on beyond the mountains. Can this boy still
grow up to be
an artist despite all of the hardships he has faced? One can certainly
and the film does present this as a thematic question on some level.
particular viewer would love the idea of Manuel living a life where art
key element to happiness being found for both himself and for others.
element of the film is the way in which it blends comedic elements into
otherwise dark and often hard to watch film. The young children don't
always understand what is happening around them and as they attempt to
the soccer ball left in a mine-field it doesn't seem to fully click how
dangerous it actually is to try and get the ball back at all. These
often play on humor and the fear of danger facing the children at the
time. It takes a special kind of skill as a director to pull of
that. Manuel, Julian, and Poca Luz are young and carefree but the world
standing in their way of the simple pleasure of a game of soccer and
Colors of the Mountain is an
eloquently scripted and directed film
and one of the best and most surprising films of the year. Don't
This is a rare cinematic gem that will stay with audiences for hours
experiencing its quiet wonders. The Colors of the Mountain
truly remarkable cinematography by Oscar Jimenez (which is so
that most audiences will be surprised by the independent nature of the
production) and score music that is simple, graceful, and emotionally
all at once. Make this a must see film and one to share with others.
powerful as an experience.
Movement presents The Colors of the Mountain (a
Columbian production) in its original
theatrical aspect ratio of 2:35:1 with anamorphic widescreen
transfer is noticeably rich in color - one can definitely experience
of the countryside quite well on this release. Black levels are even
and much stronger than on previous releases from Film Movement. There
clarity and sharpness as well. The biggest flaw of the DVD is some
interlacing issues but these seem like minor issues which don't prevent
film from being such a beautiful film to behold. The cinematography is
properly maintained with this impressive release.
audio for the The
Colors of the Mountain is not
in the same league as the video, and this is
mostly due to the limitations of only being presented with a 2.0 audio
are some scenes in which the music and ambiance could have been a bit
enveloping but the dialogue is easy to understand and that is of the
importance with this kind of film. The Colors of the Mountain is
presented in Spanish with English language subtitles. The subtitles are
from spelling or grammar errors and are easy to follow.
primary extra included on this Film Movement release
is the monthly short film (as the company always includes one short
each feature-length effort per DVD release). The Swimmers,
as directed by Carlos Lechuga, is an approximately 15
minute long story of a eccentric swimming instructor who faces
finances (he can't afford to keep the pool filled with water) but is
to find a way to still teach his students how to swim for their
The short aims to be quite humorous and offbeat but its eccentricity
entirely translate as one might hope. This short film barely features
or music (which wouldn't be so bad) but it tries to provide laughs with
offbeat style and yet it can seem unsure of its intentions at times.
is appreciated but it doesn't equally match the mastery on display with
The Colors of the Mountain.
Colors of the Mountain shouldn't
be overlooked as it is one of the most surprisingly
delightful and important films to come out of the foreign and
filmmaking community in 2010. Director Carlos Cesar Arbelaez has made
strong, authentic, and moving fiction debut. Highly
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.