El Dia Que Me Quieras

An old love song from Argentina and a film on Che

The Witness


In a stable that stands almost in the shadow of the new stone church, a man with gray eyes and gray beard, lying amid the odor of the animals, humbly tries to will himself into death, much as a man might will himself to sleep. The day, obedient to vast and secret laws, slowly shifts about and mingles the shadows in the lowly place; outside lie plowed fields, a ditch clogged with dead leaves, and the faint track of a wolf in the black clay where the line of the woods begins. The man sleeps and dreams, forgotten. The bells for orisons awaken him. Bells are now one of evening’s customs in the kingdoms of England, but as a boy the man has seen the face of Woden, the sacred horror and the exultation, the clumsy wooden idol laden with Roman coins and ponderous vestments, the sacrifice of horses, dogs, and prisoners. Before dawn he will be dead, and with him, the last eyewitness images of pagan rites will perish, never to be seen again. The world will be a little poorer when this Saxon man is dead.

Things, events, that occupy space yet come to an end when someone dies may make us stop in wonder – and yet one thing, or an infinite number of things, dies with every man’s or woman’s death, unless the universe itself has a memory, as theosophists have suggested. In the course of time there was one day that closed the last eyes that looked on Christ; the Battle of Junin and the love of Helen died with the death of one man. What will die with me the day I die? What pathetic or frail image will be lost to the world? The voice of Macedonio Fernandez, the image of a bay horse in a vacant lot in the corner of Sarrano and Charcas, a bar of sulfur in the drawer of a mahogany desk?”
‘The Aleph’ – Jorge Luis Borges translated by Andrew Hurley Penguin Book Inc., 1998


Directed by Leandro Katz


film still

Investigating death and the power of photography, EL DIA QUE ME QUIERAS is a meditation on the last picture taken of Che Guevara, as he lay dead on a table surrounded by his captors.

After Guevara was captured and killed, in 1967, a wire photograph was transmitted from Bolivia. Its publication on October 10, 1967, was the culmination of a legendary search that had lasted two years. The photograph shows the corpse in a room full of military men. Taken by Freddy Alborta, it has been compared to Mantegna's Dead Christ and Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Professor Tulp.

Katz has deconstructed this infamous photograph, approaching the work as an archaeologist sifting historical remnants. Using close-up photography and masking techniques, he re-photographs the image, and asks questions about its content, attempting to expose the indeterminate powers of photographic and cinematic representation.

The results invoke a sense of loss and mourning. But the film counters the mythologizing of Guevara by placing him back into the Latin American intellectual life of his day through references to Borges, Gardel, Neruda, Castro and contemporary Andean culture. A crucial aspect of this is an interview with the photographer, Freddy Alborta.

Alborta was the only professional photographer among the journalists taken to see Guevara's corpse. He wasn't credited for the photo until recently. From the several rolls of film he took that day, Alborta gave Katz 72 photographs never seen before to use in the film. His memories of that day, his dramatic photographs, along with rare newsreel footage and international headlines announcing the event are the central elements of the film. I thoroughly recommend this film to you.

EL DIA QUE ME QUIERAS takes its title from a song by Argentine singer Carlos Gardel. Popular in Latin America since the 1930s, the song tells of a love that brings about an almost biblical transformation. Guevara has also been transformed into a myth. This film attempts a deconstruction of the myth, through the detailed examination of a photo depicting the figure on his deathbed.The painting of Rembrandt "Anatomy lessons of Professor Tulp and its brief history can be viewed at http://www.maitrise-orthop.com/corpusmaitri/orthopaedic/86_masquelet/masqueletus.shtml

You can view Mantegna's Lamentation over Dead Christ at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lamentation_over_the_Dead_Christ_%28Mantegna%29

"The Day That You Will Love Me" is the English translation of "El Dia que Me
Quieras,"an exquisite love ballad from 1935 made popular in Latin America and the Caribbean by the renowned Tango balladeer, Carlos Gardel.  Incidentally,the legendary Gardel also wrote its music which even as a piano solo, has the ability to make one transcend space, thought and circumstance. At his prime, he died in a plane crash.

The poetic lyrics of "El Dia" speak about the realization of a near alchemical
kind of love and the sublime feelings and blissful experiences such a love
would engender.  These transformational feelings and experiences are best
understood through its highly romantic Spanish version. 

The English translation of the original song:

The Day That You Love Me
It caresses my dream,
the smooth murmur of your sighing.
How life laughs,
if your black eyes look at me.
And if it is mine the shelter
of your slight laughter
that is like singing,
it calms my wound,
everything is forgotten.

The day that you love me
the rose that adorns,
will dress in celebration
with its best color
And to the wind the church bells
will say that already you are mine,
and the crazy fountains
will tell about their love.

The night that you love me
from the blue of the sky
the jealous stars
will watch us go by.
And a mysterious ray
will nest in your hair,
inquisitive glow-worm that'll see
that you are my consolation.

The day that you love me
there'll be nothing but harmony.
The dawn will be clear
and the water spring will be happy.
The breeze will quietly bring
a rumor of melody.
And the fountains will give us
their crystal song.

The day that you love me
the singing bird
will sweeten its cords.
Life will bloom
pain will not exist.

The night that you love me
from the blue of the sky
the jealous stars
will watch us go by.
And a mysterious ray
will nest in your hair,
inquisitive glow-worm that'll see
that you are my consolation.

-- Alfredo Lepera