The modern world is cruel and cynical. Everything can be bought and sold; the only requirement is money. This topic is rather popular among artists to talk about. The documentary Island of Flowers directed by Jorge Furtado is another brief digression into the very essence of modern society, ruthlessly frank and extremely cynical.
Armed with an encyclopedic reference and the camera, the director with deliberate calm, full of hidden sarcasm, exposes the true principles of social order in a world where the value of any object, including a human being, is measured in coins and banknotes. The main “character” of the film is a common tomato, grown on a Brazilian plantation and went into a long journey through the universe of consumption. After many human hands, it ends up being among the piles of rubbish in the place called “Island of Flowers” – a waste deposit. Ironically, the graveyard has such a poetic name. This is not only the place of garbage storage but home for dozens of poor people, who stand in the food chain lower than pigs. Almost every second narrative is taken away from the main line: each new word is uttered by deadly thorough pseudo-scientific definition, followed by a kaleidoscope of animated inserts.
Parodying various training videos, Furtado clearly makes it clear how ridiculous and opportunistic is the desire to expose all around to categorization. Once again, repeating the strict definition of tomato, Japanese or pigs, the film turns into an absurd jumble of too much information, reinforcing the grotesque effect with psychedelic visuals, which often deliberately denies from the director comments. The path from puzzled fun to the perturbed shock takes a little more than twelve minutes. Complete lack of emotion in the speaker’s speech multiplies the shocking effect. The frequency of shots change is so large that the eye does not always have time to keep up with changing pictures.
The final, most powerful antithesis arises when author demonstrates the poor inhabitants of the Island of Flowers, forced to eat that part of the organic waste, which did not suit the local pig’s food. Simultaneously the same emotionless voice repeats the definition from Brazilian encyclopedia, making special emphasis on the notion of “human being.” A documentary camera is imprinted with a senseless set of sounds, which transform reality into quotations from dictionaries. This short documentary film is an angry message to a consumer society where the formal attitude towards the world elevated to the axioms and where the importance of human life is determined solely by material gain.
Island of Flowers is a highly complex product of documentation. The unusual manner of presentation of information, coupled with powerful existential overtones makes this short film one of the brightest representatives of the genre. The film won plenty of awards on the international film festivals in Germany (“Golden Bear”), France, Brazil and America. Despite all its craving for a materialist conception of world order and atheistic statements, Island of Flowers has been recognized by a truly religious movie, both among film critics, and in the bosom of the church. Harshly criticizing the king in worldly consciousness perversely utilitarian morality, Jorge Furtado with a barely restrained fervor of perturbed humanist glorifies man a free man since only this strange endangered living beings is able to comprehend the true meaning of earthly existence and bring peace to the kingdom of truth, goodness, and prosperity.