The Seven Last Words of Christ, a piece of music composed in the 18th century by Franz Joseph Haydn, are seven sonatas based on the seven last words of Jesus dying on the cross. The work also includes an introduction and a finale, therefore nine movements. Although this piece is the source of the film-concert The Seven Last Words—an original idea by Kaveh Nabatian—the themes addressed in each of the segments transcend the Catholic religion.
Each filmmaker interprets in images one of the sonatas and the word of Christ connected with it, taking inspiration from their own identity. Isn’t this the real work of a creator? In the concert of voices, we feel a complex spirituality, an exploration of the human condition and experience which, despite each person’s context and living conditions, are common to us all: the stories we tell each other to learn and remember, the body and its needs, family, old age, death.
The segment directed by Juan Andrés Arango, “Woman, There’s Your Son! There’s Your Mother!”, which explores the theme of relationships, is a particularly good illustration of this universality. Shot in Colombia and on the Côte‑Nord of Quebec, the segment follows two characters as they move through very different situations. One is a sailor on his way to the south of Buenaventura to deliver some cargo—here the tropics with their warm and rich colours are featured; the other is an Innu crab fisherman, warmly dressed on a boat—here the northern landscape with its whites and blues is highlighted. We accompany the two protagonists in their routines and see two men living in diametrically opposed places, yet whose experiences are similar.
No matter what religion, culture, or place one belongs to, the simple fact of being human exceeds the individual—we all have to confront our reason for living and our mortality one day. The Seven Last Words is a work of art in Quebec cinema: an ode to human difference and complexity.