By Don Simpson | December 5, 2011
Director: Wagner de Assis
Writer: Wagner de Assis
Starring: Renato Prieto, Fernando Alves Pinto, Rosane Mulholland, Inez Viana, Rodrigo dos Santos, Werner Schünemann, Clemente Viscaíno, Helena Varvaki, Aracy Cardoso, Selma Egrei
Based on the best selling book by the infamous Brazilian medium Chico Xavier, Astral City: A Spiritual Journey tells the story of André Luiz (Renato Prieto), a doctor who experiences a spiritual awakening after he dies. Xavier purportedly wrote Astral City with the guidance of André Luiz’s spirit — who communicated the story to Xavier from the afterlife — and considering the minute and thorough details revealed in the film, that actually seems as if it could be believable. I will refrain from commenting on that, though…
André first wakes up in purgatory, a nightmarish dimension of pain and suffering. In this realm, André is referred to as “a suicide,” therefore his purgatorial peers do not believe that he deserves to be saved. Of course André does not understand any of this, because he did not commit suicide…at least not in the traditional sense. As it turns out, however, while André existed on Earth he indulged in several Cardinal Sins (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony) and those sins festered within his soul and eventually became the eventual cause of his death. Looking at it that way, André’s death was self-induced and therefore suicide.
André is eventually delivered to Astral City; and while there is not much to learn about purgatory — other than it being a horrible place — we are given the chance to learn a lot about Astral City. I really do not want to spoil any details for you, because Brazilian writer-director Wagner de Assis does such a fantastic job portraying Astral City on the silver screen and I think it is best to experience this world with virginal eyes. Essentially, the point of Astral City is to fully immerse the audience into Xavier’s interpretation of the afterlife and let’s just say that Astral City is not such a bad place.
Usually when I hear that a film is the most expensive production in the history of its homeland (in this case: Brazil), I run the other way; but the stunning art direction and special effects make Astral City a worthwhile cinematic experience. I am not sure where I stand on the possibilities of the afterlife, but I enjoyed the lush visual representations of Xavier’s theories nonetheless. In case you are wondering… For the most part, Astral City is non-denominational, though it (like spiritism) is rooted in Christian doctrine.
Astral City is scheduled to be released on DVD in December 2011 in the United States by Strand Releasing.