Mario Benedetti’s low-key “long love” unfolds on the big screen

A reproduction of an archive photo provided by the production company Coral Films showing the pairing of Luz López and the famous Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti.

Photo: EFE/Coral Films

Although today little remains to be known about the Uruguayan author who, with a huge work that has sold more than three million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages, has become an essential part of universal literature, he still persists without revealing an aspect , which, reserved for the closest circle, remained away from public attention: that of “his light”.

This is, as the director of the film “Benedetti, 60 years with Luz”, Andres Varela, emphasizes in an interview, during an investigation for the centenary of the writer, in 2020, the team of the production company Coral Films discovered a character “absolutely unknown, but so fundamental to his life,” as was Luz Lopez, his wife.

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Future and reefs

“When I met her/she was only twelve years old and had black braids/and a stupid dog that served as our doormat/I was fourteen and I wasn’t even a dog,” Benedetti says in the 1976 Bodas de Perlas, a poem , in which, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the relationship, breaks down what it was like to meet the love of your life.

There he also says the phrase that opens the trailer for the documentary, in which, Varela says, the author himself is often responsible for telling the story with his poems dedicated to Luz: “I calculated the future and the riffs/and knew that I Was it was written to me/or rather it was written to me/and until now I don’t know what the difference is”.

So, says the director, in the film, which will be previewed this Wednesday – the author’s birthday – the figure of a low-profile woman who has “a very deep education in art” is revealed layer by layer, motivated by his parents, but he comes from a family with a right-wing political tradition, far from the left-wing militancy that characterizes Benedetti.

For Varela, this is one of the biggest discoveries the investigation has made because, he notes, Benedetti’s relationship with his in-laws has not been severed despite these differences.

“One would never have guessed that one of the people Mario loved the most was Luz’s first cousin, who was a colonel in the army, and we discovered that this man often helped him leave the country when he was in the -big danger,” he explains.

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The eternal puzzle

As Varela explains, one of the challenges of the film, which tries to “restore” the “very deep” love affair that passed through the life of the creator of “La Tregua” or “Gracias por el fuego”, is in assembling this “eternal puzzle ‘, as most of the images are from the archive and combining them was ‘a very difficult equation’.

“We have pictures of her from when she was a girl to her last days, and we capture it all in one moment, as if it were a storybook,” she says, adding that they are supplemented with some “wedges” or reproductions of key moments in history, such as the first asthma attack that left the Uruguayan on the brink of death.

“We tried to tap into that ability that Mario had to go to the simple, to say the right thing. It was also like a slogan that it should be simple, and based on that we were putting together this puzzle with all these elements,” he notes.

To which he specifies that although there are interviews with family and friends, such as the composer Juan Manuel Serrat or the Argentine Nacha Guevara, they are sought to be in an “off” format rather than in front of the camera, Varela also emphasizes the role that music plays in the film.

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“There are two musical themes (written by Benedetti in collaboration with musicians), but then the entire soundtrack was composed specifically for the film,” he points out regarding the film, which does not lack Guevara’s voice, singing the romantic “if you want because you you/my love, my accomplice and everything”.

More if you get lost one afternoon

A turning point in the relationship between Benedetti and López, who accompanied the author in his various exiles – first in Cuba, then in Spain – was, says Varela, the impact caused by the sudden onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which affected her in old age. and which deeply affects the author.

“It’s like a terrible dagger, it’s almost a Greek tragedy, and it’s completely unknown in Mario’s life. Three years later he died in a state of loneliness and pain, so it’s very interesting in contrast to this good-natured, likable author,” he points out.

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“The person he decided to spend his whole life with, the love of his life, forgets him,” the director adds, saying that recreating that first night when he didn’t find her by his side because he walked away confused involved special work hands-on with cinematographer, César Charlon.

“But if one afternoon you lose yourself/Between the sea and the mirror/Always remember that here we are/I and my soul and my body,” concludes Benedetti’s Sonata for Farewell and Flute, and it is this and other passages like this that which reminds us that “long love has no splits”, which will also play with the emotions of those who once in theaters watch 60 years of love written in verse.

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