La Habanera

La Habanera

La Habanera (Original Title)

Astrée and her aunt from Sweden are vacationing in Puerto Rico. Astrée is enchanted by the local habanera musicas well as by Don Pedro de Avila, a rich and powerful landowner. Upon embarkation, she spontaneously decides to stay; she runs down the gangway, finds him waiting for her, and soon is married. Ten years later - it is now 1937 - Astrée finds herself trapped in an unhappy marriage. Her paradise has turned to hell; only her son, Juan, is the reason for her to stay. Meanwhile in Stockholm, Dr. Sven Nagel, a former lover of Astrée, and his associate, Dr. Gomez, bid farewell. They are departing for Puerto Rico to investigate the mysterious and deadly Puerto Rico fever. On the island, their arrival is met with dismay by Don Pedro and his business associates as they fear the focus on the Puerto Rico fever will depress their business; so they plan to deny its existence. An earlier attempt by researchers from the Rockefeller Institute to find a cure had been a failure, and the resulting publicity had depressed the local economy and rsulted in widespread famine. Once in Puerto Rico, the two investigators receiving no local support proceed to conduct their studies on their own in the hotel room. Meanwhile, Astrée has a fall-out with her husband about their son. He wants him to learn about bull-fighting, while she has been teaching him about snow and Sweden. Thus Don Pedro decides to take the education of Juan out of her hands. Astrée in response books a passage to leave Puerto Rico with her son to return to Sweden. Meanwhile the Puerto Rico fever is starting to claim its first victims, and Drs. Nagel and Gomez search for a cure secretly. Don Pedro learns about Astree’s plans and suspects that Dr. Nagel is involved. He invites him for a soiree to have an opportunity to have his hotel room searched and gain evidence against him for his arrest and deportation. Thus at the soiree Dr. Nagel and Astrée meet and fall in love again. Astrée sings La Habanera presumably for her husband, but the song declares her love for the doctor.

1h 38min
December 30, 1937
Admin comments

The melodrama plot is, perhaps, just a touch too sketchy, but the handling of it is magnificent. This is a film of extremely subtle montage, aided by a flawless sense of framing, angle and composition. Sirk creates a stifling atmosphere with his dark rooms, without showing any sun, where the shadows of the blinds reflect on the heroine and give the viewer the strange feeling she is in jail. The only sparkle he gets is provided by a sequence in Sweden and, oddly, when the heroine tells her son about her country. Zara Leander is beautiful to watch. You may compare her to Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo and decide who is the better actress/singer. La Habanera is a slow Cuban dance similar to the Tango.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By signing in, you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy.

By creating an account you agree to Noxe's our terms and conditions and privacy policy.