Vesper

A little over a week ago, I won two tickets to a movie at the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla, New Mexico. This felt like something of a big deal, since neither my wife nor I had been to a movie theater since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fountain Theatre is a small venue run by the Mesilla Valley Film Society and is known for showing foreign and indie releases. It’s called the Fountain Theatre because the building was purchased by Albert Fountain Jr. in 1905. Back in those days, the theater put on plays, light opera, and vaudeville performances. The Fountain family sold the building to Vincent Guerra in 1929 and that’s when they began to show movies. Guerra had to relinquish the building back to the Fountain family in 1938. The Mesilla Valley Film Society began renting the building in 1989 as a venue to show foreign, alternative, and indie films.

The film my wife and I won tickets for was Vesper. Directed by Kristina Buožytė and Bruno Samper, it’s a French-Lithuanian-Belgian film set in a post-apocalyptic world where people had attempted to avert disaster by growing genetically modified crops. Things went horribly wrong and most animal life died and the planet is dominated by dangerous plants. Society’s elite live in citadels and trade viable food seeds with the stragglers in the wider world for items they need. The film’s title character, played by Rafiella Chapman, lives in an old house with her father who had been injured in battle. He can see and hear through a floating drone that accompanies Vesper out into the world. On one of Vesper’s trips, she finds Carmellia, played by Rosy McEwen, who survived an aircraft crash. Vesper brings her back to the house and nurses her back to health. Carmellia heals surprisingly quickly.

Vesper’s uncle Jonas, played by Eddie Marsan, lives on a nearby homestead with a number of children. He harvests blood to trade with the citadels in exchange for seeds. We soon learn that Jonas is not an uncle to be relied on. He’s mercenary and has less-than-platonic interest in his niece. When he finds Carmellia’s wrecked aircraft, he quickly kills Carmellia’s father and scavenges the craft instead of calling the citadels for help. It’s a dark world and there’s no obvious path to making it better. Aspects of the story reminded me of a more rural take on Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita. Of course, our title character is Vesper, and like a twilight prayer, she might hold hope for a better future. Overall, this was a great film to lure me back out to the theater. You can learn more about the movie and find places to stream it at: https://www.vespermovie.com/

In general, I’m delighted to see that the Mesilla Valley Film Society is still operating and showing great films. If the theater’s 1905 owner, Albert Fountain Jr. sounds familiar to my readers, he should. His father, Albert Jennings Fountain appears as a character in my novel The Brazen Shark, where he serves as defense attorney to Billy McCarty and Luther Duncan. Also, Albert Fountain and his son Henry are the title characters in my story “Fountains of Blood” which appears in the anthology Straight Outta Tombstone. As always, you can learn more about my writing by visiting http://www.davidleesummers.com

11 comments on “Vesper

  1. Synchronistically enough, I just finished helping with a written piece that touches on some similar themes to those in *Vesper*.

    It’s fun knowing a theatre’s history. I once lived in an area that also had a play/musical theatre converted before I was born to a movie theater. As a journalist, I once got to attend a free showing of a major motion picture there–*Gone with the Wind*. I didn’t think I’d ever see the 1939 classic on the big screen!

    In regard to your attorney character, I do often wonder what inspires character creation by other authors, so find that interesting. Ordinarily, I avoid modeling characters after real, living people–except when they ask me to! (And then I make sure they approve the final product).

    • The theater is a fascinating place and I love many of the movies they show. I was glad for a prompt to go back after far too long away.

      Just to note, Albert Fountain, the attorney I based my character on died almost a century before I was born. So, he wasn’t a real, living character in the sense that he’s alive now. He’s a historical character, in much the same vein as other famous, historical figures who have appeared in my work such as Percival Lowell or Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, his death is one of New Mexico’s famous unsolved mysteries!

      • My apologies if my post was unclear. I did understand Albert Fountain was a historical figure, although I have to admit my knowledge of New Mexico history is virtually nil!

      • No worries. Yes, if Albert Fountain were still alive, I would have definitely asked his permission before using him in a story. However, as it turns out, there’s a grave marker for him at the cemetery behind my house. It’s that marker, which marks an empty grave, which inspired my story in the anthology Straight Outta Tombstone.

  2. Willow Croft says:

    Do the plants win? 🙂 *laugh*

  3. Willow Croft says:

    If I pop back to NM for a visit, I gotta see this…is the original interior fairly intact? (I have a family member who restored a few historic theatres.)

  4. It’s so cool to go to a movie in a historic theater. I know you had a great time!

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