It is a fact that the pages of history books are always filled with the names of the winners and losers on the battlefields. But how many of the readers of these books are aware of the details behind the scenes of these struggles that define the destiny of a community? How many of us are aware that the soldiers are not some fighting machines programmed to kill, but they are beings with a personal life, with an intimate perimeter within the roots of the ideology they fight for? How many of us are aware not of the suffering of the soldier waiting for his death, but of the suffering of the wives who, though not directly experiencing the slaughter hell, are consumed by their own emotional hell haunted by the imminent extinction of the one they love? ‘The Peach was Once a Bitter Almond‘ is a painful and poetic short film that leans on this general typology – the soldier’s wife, so ignored by historians too preoccupied with the destinies of the communities and too little with the personal, subjective destinies of those who have dedicated their life to a more or less absurd fight. Director Conor Campbell approaches, therefore, the uncomfortable and popular theme of war changing the general perspective, in order to surprise not the terrifying noises of the battlefield, but the overwhelming silence of the wives, the mothers or the daughters who, in their turn, confront a war of their own, to maintain their emotional integrity despite the fragility of the human being that the horrors of the conflagrations highlight.
Without adopting the conventional structures of a concrete narrative thread, this implosive project illustrates in a succession of heart-breaking images the avatars of female suffering, in an attempt to hypostasize, through two characters united by a love story and separated by the cruelty of a war, the valences of the emotional reactivity faced with the absurd destruction of wars. Far from proposing a realistic foray into the intimate and outer universe of the individual imprisoned in the political games of invisible leaders, this experimental marks a woman’s attempt to launch a tragic, poetic and fragile confession to her husband in a sort of fluid purgatory, where the souls of those who have left the world of the living stand for a last moment of sincerity, for a last chance to find their inner peace.
Faithful to a special cinema with poetic-experimental tendencies, Conor Campbell creates a sensitive symbiosis between the translucent chromatic of image and the discourse of the characters. Likewise, the close-ups succession that captures, with the extraordinary talent of the main actress, an impactful insight in the morphology of pain and the obsessive fragility with which the director renders a universal picture of the suffering (which goes beyond the socio-political context of the 18th century), transforms ‘The Peach was Once a Bitter Almond’ both into a tender and visceral short film about the human condition and a profound metaphor about the history that is written not only with the blood of the soldiers, but also with the tears of the survivors.