The word “buladó” has “flying fish”. To be precise, medium-sized flying fish tend to be large with dark colored wings. The word appears in a line of prayer belonging to the indigenous people of Curaçao, the island nation under the Dutch constitution. It reads in English, “Flying fish can’t drown”. The prayer is said for the ancestral spirits, which represents the belief that death is not the end. Death must be accepted as a part of life.
Of course, believing it is not easy, especially when the culture of belief is increasingly being eroded by modernization. As a rational-minded cop, Ouira (Everon Jackson Hooi) dismisses it. That is why, after so many years, the grief of his wife’s death has not yet been healed. He rarely visited the grave. Top Movie
On the other hand, Weljo (Felix de Rooy), Ouira’s father, still strongly adheres to the ancestral culture, rejects modern touches, builds a worship tree from scraps, so that people think he is crazy. This friction of trust strained their relationship. Especially when Ouira intends to sell his land to a white businessman.
But Buladó, who represents the Netherlands at the 2021 Academy Awards, does not focus on the two, but instead focuses on the third generation, an 11-year-old boy named Kenza (Tiara Richards). Kenza, who is sandwiched between his father’s and grandfather’s principles, often causes trouble at school, either by skipping school or getting into fights. “Maybe he misses his mother”, said the principal, which Ouira refuted, “How can we miss something we never had?”.
Kenza’s memory of his mother is almost non-existent. But is there really no longing? Director Eché Janga, who is descended from a Curaçao native, co-wrote the script with Esther Duysker, (one of them) to question the above. Because when referring to the culture of Curaao, family relationships do not only stop at the physical realm, but also in the spiritual realm.
The plot explores the process of the protagonist looking for answers, through a combination of coming-of-age, religious stories (which really emphasize religiosity), and magic realism. A scene appears when Kenza lies on his mother’s grave. His eyes were closed, the color of the sky changed, the breeze touched his body. Visually, nothing significant happened, and wasn’t wind gusts an ordinary natural phenomenon?
Rational thought would say so, but at that point, Kenza, who had been skeptical of his grandfather, began to open his heart, open a spiritual space, even if it wasn’t intentional. It feels like we too often experience similar events, when the universe seems to be speaking, which we often deny with the statement, “Ah, it’s just a feeling”. Movie Review
According to Buladó, with his magic realism, these were not mere feelings or coincidences. Indeed, the universe is talking, but only those who want to “feel” can hear it, or in other words, “one with nature”. Regarding building the impression of magic realism, apart from the beautiful landscapes that were captured by Gregg Telussa as the cinematographer, Janga uses a lot of wind. As if the wind is an extension of the universe. The wind is often seen moving objects, even more often we hear than words from the character’s mouth. Plus music by Christiaan Verbeek, Buladó feels even more dreamy.
What the film needs to improve (or rather, add) is a turning point. We know the “grave scene” is a turning point for Kenza’s approach to spiritualism, but what about the process of accepting the concept of death? How was the turning point of Ouira’s journey of ancestral beliefs and colonialism? Of course we see them slowly learning, but in a film, where the audience has to be emotionally attached, there needs to be a definite turning point. Not that Buladó has to add dramatization like a mainstream spectacle. On the contrary, from there he can maximize the aesthetics of his magic wrapper. Of course, believing it is not easy, especially when the culture of belief is increasingly being eroded by modernization. As a rational-minded cop, Ouira (Everon Jackson Hooi) dismisses it. That is why, after so many years, the grief of his wife’s death has not yet been healed. He rarely visited the grave. Best Movie Site