Aqui jaz um grande poeta

Nada deixou de escrito

Este silêncio, acredito

São suas obras completas

Lápide I – Epitáfio para o Corpo – Paulo Leminski


Paulo Leminski (1944-1989) is a famous Brazilian poet who was born in Curitiba, Paraná. He studied in depth the Japanese language and culture, which influenced his poems, many of them being formatted as haikus. With his short pieces he intended to convey great ideas with the minimum amount of words possible(Araujo n.d.). In “Lápide I – Epitáfio para o Corpo” (Tombstone I – Epitaph for the Body), the poet says:

“Here lies a great poet
Who didn’t leave any writings
This silence, I believe
Is his complete work”

When required to do a lighting exercise for a 16mm film class, I decided to use the 100 feet of film stipulated (which is less then 3 minutes) as creatively and meaningfully as possible. Therefore, I chose to use a poem that was very meaningful to me. Leminski talks about a poet who dies without ever writing anything, and all that he has left to the world is silence. For a long time I feared not being able to develop my artistic abilities, so my identification with this poem was immediate. I got in touch with Alice Ruiz, the wife of the late poet, who is also a writer, and received her permission to use the poem in my piece.

For the style of the film, I had two major influences: One of them was muralist Poty Lazzarotto (1924-1998). As Leminski, Lazzarotto was born in Curitiba, Paraná, which is also where I am from. This is no coincidence. “The Death of The Poet” is a very personal piece and that can be seen by looking deeper into my aesthetic choices. Both the poet and the muralist are part of my artistic background. Curitiba is decorated with many murals made by Poty Lazzarotto (Paineis de Poty Lazzarotto n.d.), and his style influenced me in choosing that the poet in my film should write Leminski’s poem in a large mural.

The other aesthetic influence I had for the film came from German expressionist horror films. The year before I had been studying horror and the gothic, and the use of symbolism in German expressionism to convey deeper meaning to the films (Hudson n.d.) was what most interested me in the study. Even though the aesthetic choices of German expression directors represent the social environment lived at the time (Weimar’s Republic – Post Word War I), I decided to use their unique visual language – light and shadows, and a black and white film stock – to show my innermost fear as an artist: dying without producing anything, which is my poet’s crisis in the film. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”  (Robert Wiene, 1920) gave me the inspiration for the silhouettes created by the lighting, the wardrobe and makeup, but not necessarily for the narrative, which, in Wiene’s film, deals with the Germany of the 1920’s (according to Paul Coates, the narrative framing of the movie is an “imitation of the functioning of the state bureaucracy”(Coates 1991)); the implicit narrative of my piece is a metaphor of a poet who dies without ever writing anything, but at the moment of his death, he is writing his own epitaph. The words whispered in the background along with the music intend to create a psychological mood to the film, as if the words of the poem were in the poet’s mind, haunting him.

Finally, “the death of the poet” is an audiovisual representation of not only my fears as an artist, but also shows my roots, the artists from my hometown, and the rhythm of my language. It represents my belief that cinema is the art form that can best combine other forms of artistic expression, such as music, poetry, painting, sculpture, etc., and therefore, should be used to express feelings, emotions, and ideas.

Works Cited

Araujo, Sabrina de. Paulo Leminski – Biografia e Análise. (accessed 11 24, 2010).

Coates, Paul. The Gorgon’s Gaze: German cinema; expressionism, and image of horror. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Hudson, David. “German Expressionism.” Cine Green. (accessed 11 24, 2010).

Paineis de Poty Lazzarotto. (accessed 11 24, 2010).

“the death of the poet.” Elisa Herrmann – Blogfolio. 2010. (accessed 11 24, 2010).