Mañana en la Batalla

Julián Álvarez

It’s summertime. We’re in a train; a return trip; from life to one’s birth place; Julián Alvarez improvises a self-portrait. The existential travelling format is revisited through the re-reading of a derogated novel, Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí (Tomorrow in the battle think on me) by Javier Marías.

The same text, Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí, offers two readings that mutually complement each other; it presents us with two different authors, writer and reader, coming from very different universes, but joined by the two faces of this one book. Mañana en la batalla is an ego-movie about the nature of the book as an object, about its portability, its immediacy and visuality. According to Alvarez himself, “an ego-movie is a ‘film or recording that I make of myself, bringing myself to the foreground and leaving all the rest in the background’.” The piece traces an axis articulating both creative trajectories to reach a sense of sensory completion.

The video starts out with an active tranquility, the will to relax and get away from monotony by enjoying the lag of reason in a train. The moments of external self-auscultation mix with those in which the reading is acknowledged, like a mantra. The author reader, lost in himself in an act of creative exploration, travels from the solitude of the physical to the intimate. Action and text are condensed for the camera, formulating specific forms of assimilation. Alvarez looks at himself on different mirrors, oscillating between respect for the book and the alienation of its reading. The camera movements are understood, in McLuhan’s sense, as a bodily extension, or after St. Theresa’s words, as “living without living in me”. The camera floats and combs the pages, the letters, the reader and the image of the writer in an attempt to collect both experiences and feelings.

Ego-movies close a formal circle that started with W.S.N.S. (1984), which presented a several minutes long hand-held camera travelling on the floor. The experimental cycle continued with El Ring (1989) and the jib arm FishCam. At the end, the camera pans the 180º to reach the author himself, “like a prosthesis responding spontaneously to the mind’s, the stomach’s and the heart’s impulses”. A textual reality in which his own body is implicated, becoming the main character in the scene and enacting a self-portrait out of the reading of an other.

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Technical datasheet

  • Title: Mañana en la Batalla
  • Direction: Julián Álvarez
  • Production: Julián Álvarez. 2003.
  • Team:

    Texts (fragments): Javier Marías (Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí)
    DVcam: Julián Álvarez
    Off-line edition: Julián Álvarez
    Soundtrack design: Julián Álvarez
    On/off voice: Julián Álvarez
    Edition Edit Box: Joan Ramón Canosa

  • Duration: 00:07:15
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Original format: Betacam SP
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright