Form and Syntax of Limite
By Lécio Augusto Ramos
This is not in fact an analysis on “Limite”, but a reflection on some formal characteristics of this singular movie in the history of cinema and of any visual art. No, maybe this is not even a logical and ordered reflection, but a non-systemized reunion of ideas on visual, narrative and plastic elements. The intention is not to search for the meaning of the film, since the meaning of a film such as “Limite” is not realized from a pure formal analysis, as rigorous as it could be. The meaning of “Limite” transcends its form. And it also celebrates the movie since without such a special materiality it is taken on, “Limite” would not have been anything but an idea, yet extraordinary, brilliant, tragic.
“Limite” is a perfect example of what could be called brain cinema. It is not drawn up from the vision sphere, the apparent image, but from the mental conception, from the logos primacy. The cinematographic apparatus, although mastered in a not totally elementary level, turns into an instrument of introduction of the imaginary into the cinema images. A complex world exists within everything, but it is as if between the mind of its creator, Mário Peixoto, and the event-film “Limite” there was no distance at all. However, let us turn to the essential point of this analysis, which is the question of form and syntax of “Limite”.
What is most impressive in “Limite”: the form itself, the rigorous composition of shots, the photographic visualization of geometries, textures, shadows and lights that materialize to our eyes a world of abyss, or a whole syntax of symmetries and synchronies that organize everything?
The form in “Limite” is everything: the images of the film are crossed by a symbolic texture that makes them a vehicle with a meaning superior to them, images that in a certain way could exist independently. The predominant characteristic is an intense fragmentation and unbalance of the visible content. The decoupage of “Limite” is conducted by a principle that could be called detail aesthetics: instead of whole bodies, pieces of bodies; instead of landscapes and complete objects, cutouts and fractions of landscapes and objects. But it is also marked by a vertigo feeling, of decentering; the inclined angles predominate, when the camera moves from its nodal axis and establishes a diagonal relation with the subject. “Limite” keeps away from perpendicularity, the linear relation with the horizon. It searches the unbalance and the deviation.
But the syntax is also fundamental. “Limite” is not a succession of pictures or highly refined frames; it is a flux of shots that built as a rigorously articulated self-referential diegesis. The editing of “Limite” is precise as a sharp blade. It is built from a millimetric decoupage. Mário made the act of joining the shots of the film a correspondence operation, of reiteration of the previous construction, of mental nature (and textual). But the editing is not an updating of a model: in “Limite”, there are shots that attract other shots, there is a principle of analogy or of formal antithesis that regulates the association of images.
In “Limite” the camera plays a fundamental role: it is self-existent, introducing an author subjectivity in the film text. The presence of this author is perceived in the movements of the camera and in the frequent frame reconstructions, in placing the camera in the diegesis space and in the eccentric angles. They show an intervention in nature, which is not shown passively, at distance, but fragmented, deconstructed, decentered.
The singularity of “Limite” is not in the fact that it is a non-narrative, an idea, indeed, inadequate, since “Limite” in a way is narrative, or, at least, it contains a bundle of conceptual narratives, but in the rigorous articulation between photographic composition and editing. Mário creates a film that harmonizes form and syntax, that is distinguished by the plastic construction and by the internal cohesion among shots.