domingo, febrero 11, 2007

Fantasy, movies and literature imitating reality

In the movie Royal Bonbon's opening scene, a homeless middle-aged demented black man named Chacha wanders his way around the Carénage in Cap-Haitian. Then the character strolls the streets of the city begging for food and annoying people. He’s a “moun fou”. The female street vendors - the “ti machan” - kick him away, angered by his apparent vulgarity. Chacha undergoes an amazing epiphany and, declaring himself “King Chacha”, recruits a young child and leaves Cap. His hallucinatory dream turns into reality when he arrives to Milot and claims to be King Henri Christophe reincarnated. More children and a bunch of old people join him to take possession of the ruins of the Sans-Souci palace. Then he distributes honors and titles to set up a weird aristocracy.

Alejo Carpentier’s novel “The Kingdom of this World”, after the looting of Sans-Souci, the main character – Ti Noel - takes refuge in the ruins of his old master’s house. With a strange and beautiful, albeit useless, variety of spoils from the palace, the character rebuilds a makeshift personal kingdom, while awarding honorific titles to the passersby.

The real life fact is this: General Henri Chistophe crowned himself King of Haiti in 1811 and imposed a Constitution that very same year, creating
hereditary titles for four Princes, eight Dukes, 22 Counts, 37 Barons and 14 Chevaliers.