The Archangel's Feather

Director Luis Manza, a veteran of Venezuelan TV, makes an impressive feature debut with this modest but fully realized 2001 adaptation of a story by Arturo Uslar Pietri. The telegraph operator in a remote mountain village has passed away, and his replacement is a handsome and eerily self-possessed gentleman in a luminous white suit. Explaining to his squirrelly young assistant that he wields “the power of the word,” the telegrapher begins to fabricate messages from the country's “Supreme Chief,” thus liberating the villagers from the rule of a tyrannical colonel and the rapacious son of a local administrator. In tone if not substance, the film draws heavily on magical realism: frequent lap dissolves create a fluid sense of time, sounds accompanying key events are drenched in reverb, and the percussive score suggests the nervous tattoo of Morse code. 92 min.

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