America Reframed: Purgatorio
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Watch Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 8pm on WORLD.

Leaving politics aside, Rodrigo Reyes looks anew at the brutal beauty of the U.S./Mexico border and the people caught in its spell. The evocative Dantesque essay film reimagines the border as a mythical place exploring the vulnerability of the human soul, the violence man creates and the destruction left in its wake. 

The film opens with Reyes’ own words: “Close your eyes. Try to imagine what the world was like, many, many years ago. Try to imagine when borders did not exist.” His invitation is for us to think about a world where time, wonder and mystery converge seamlessly. He continues, “And then we arrived.” Later, as the camera sweeps across an endless expanse of desert, Reyes adds, “We tore it apart into a thousand pieces. And in the madness that followed, we discovered violence, hate, and finally, separation.”

In the auteur tradition of caméra-stylo, Purgatorio captures a stunning mosaic of compelling characters, empty edifices and stark landscapes along the border to deliver a haunting meditation and visceral experience. Exposing both the flaws of human nature and the incongruities of the modern world, the filmmaker reflects on questions that are impossible to answer. Reyes’ epic film transforms a treacherous reality into a fable of humanity.