The Dream of Light

El sol del membrillo

Victor Erice, Spain, 1992


Victor Erice’s documentary feature follows an important Spanish contemporary artist across the seasons as he tries to paint a quince tree at the bottom of his garden. Towards the end of the film Erice brings one of the painter’s dreams to life. The colour tone of the film changes totally and, by using the colour blue, Erice takes us in to the world of the dream. The metallic hue of the blue is the cinematic colour signifier for light filtering from outside in to a room at night, as discussed in the section on Eyes Wide Shut. The painter’s sleeping face, lit by this blanket blue colour as he lies in bed, sets the tone for us to enter in to Erice’s flimed version of the dream. The dream itself is an exploration of light and colour. The quinces with which the painter is obsessed are no longer normal, common all garden quinces. Keeping the dominant blue colour of the dream the film makers make the fruits more troubling by introducing greens, browns and yellows to ‘show’ them decomposing. The black of night frames the image, and they take on a slightly fantastical tinge, reflecting the painter’s dream, which he narrates over the image: “A light, clear and sombre at times, which turns all to metal and ashes. It’s not the light of the night, nor that of the dawn, nor that of the twilight.” Victor Eurice shows us this light in action by filming the shadow of a camera cast on to the wall. The light itself is non other than that of a cinema projector.

In a shot of a quince on the ground Erice changes the lighting and colours during the course of the shot, giving the illusion of the fleeting passage of time, and allowing us to experience the rotting of the fruit.