|The 2010 film Afinidades, by Cuban writer, director Vladimir Cruz (top photo), is a modern-day remake of Goethe's Elective Affinities (1809), wherein the characters are conceptualized as quark-comprised chemicals that react together, discussing things such as freedom, morality, and meaning of existence.|
The short synopsis of the film is that Cuba is economically down-trodden and losing its sense of values. In this state, a chemical company, run by Nestor (Jorge Perugorria), the "boss", is about to be sold to a foreign interest, during which 40 percent of the company staff will be sacked. Bruno (Vladimir Cruz), an overqualified theoretical physicist, working as a chemistry lab technician, at Bruno's company, doesn't want to lose his job during the company buyout; Nestor being the one person who has connections to the "big cheese" outside of Cuba. Nestor alludes to the deal that if Bruno consents to a swingers-like couple swap at the resort, his job will be secure. Nestor's wife Christina, a lawyer, is open to the idea, i.e she "likes everything" as she says. Bruno's wife Magda, a young art school graduate, however, is ambivalent to the whole thing, but eventually gives in. Things "heat" up as various sexual reactions ensue, at the end of which things, things get "cold" and Bruno looses his wife Magda, who says she dies of "disgust".
The script, written by Puerto Rican writer and director Vladimir Cruz arose during a 10-day screenwriter’s conference in Switzerland; and the screenplay was selected for the 2009 edition of Plume & Pellicule. (Ѻ)
The movie was filmed in late 2009 in Cuba; some behind the scenes photos of which are available on VladimirCruz.net. (Ѻ)
The film is based on the novel Chamber Music (Musical de Camara) by Reinaldo Montero, and "inspired" by Goethe’s Elective Affinities, or The Selective Affinities ("Las afinidades selectivas", as they call it in Cuba), elements of which are seen in the film, such as:
(a) physico-chemical framework to human relationships and passions;
(b) the island lagoon resort, accessible only by boat, modeled on the estate;
(c) the broken glass, and talk of how the Russians break their glasses after toasting;
(d) the metaphor of the structure of the huts having a solid foundation as metaphor for human relations (or something);
(e) the graveyard;
(f) the church and foot path;
(g) the sexual flexibility of all of the characters for each other (the two men for each other aside)
(h) citation to the forbiddenness of the sixth commandment, to "covet your neighbor's wife" (see: ten commandments)
(i) the slowing down of time;
(j) Magda dying from "disgust" at the end, similar to how Ottilie "died" from self-deprivation owing to the unattainability of love;
Cruz is Bruno, a theoretical physicist employee of the chemical company Nestor (Perugorría) who fears for the continuity of his job, married to Magda, a young and romantic woman, without much life experience, who plays the newcomer Gabriela Griffith. (Ѻ)
|The full Afinidades video (Ѻ), but without English subtitles.|
Nuffer | Review
In 2011, Corey Nuffer gave the following review synopsis of the film: 
“All films arise from scripts but not all scripts come from novels. After reading Chamber Music (Música de Cámara) by Cuban author Reinaldo Montero, Cuban actor Vladimir Cruz wrote the script for the feature film, Affinities (Afinidades). Along with fellow actor Jorge Perugorría, Cruz co-directed and starred in the film. Their efforts culminated in a film seething with the interstitial complexity that’s easily encountered in a novel but less so on screen. Consequently, Affinities tells one story but emotes something as complicated as the human condition. It’s a strange sensation to be intuiting such complexity from a film. Perhaps that’s why it will keep you thinking long after the closing credits roll. Immediately, the film conveys the sort of tension leading you to believe this story will end in someone dying. Affinities is not a thriller, however, it is drama.
The writing allows for even less breathing space as characters interact with each other with grandiose ideas and brutally short replies. Sometimes these exchanges seem truncated, as if Cruz purposefully withheld anything that would feel like resolution. The absence, then, makes for silence, something that is given fierce presence in the role of Magda (exquisitely portrayed by actress Gabriela Griffith). It is in these exchanges that your mind wanders in a gentle panic. Much like music, it is these spaces of silence or what goes unsaid that are more important than the music itself. And so you continue watching with baited breath and hope for some release. Cruz even gives to one of the characters, the wonderful Spanish actress Cuca Escribano, the habit of speaking in questions. Indeed, while much of what she has to say provides us with the levity so scarce in this film, she is literally discussed in the movie as speaking in questions. The effect is both cute and frustrating, for many of her questions go unanswered.
With all that is happening under the surface, the plot of the film is somewhat simple: Two couples spend a weekend together on a getaway. Arriving on a Friday and leaving on a Sunday, they dine together, go boating together, sun themselves at the pool together, watch a show together and in more ways that you can anticipate and imagine, have sex. And there it is: There is a lot of sex in this movie. Affinities can certainly be considered a part of this genre of picture, but it is also much more. In a press conference for Affinity, Cruz explains that while this is a movie much ado about infidelity, it is also just as much about the individual. He states: “We are only trying to meditate about the human being and their complexities, facing emptiness and the lack of rational explanation for many of the problems of the contemporary world, sometimes appearing that the only way out is to take refuge in instincts.” He goes on to say that the instinctual impulse ends up being sex.
No wonder why the movie carries with it such an overwhelming feeling; this is a lot to convey in 90-minutes of film, no matter how well made. Adding to everything is the political dimension: Cuba is still under US embargo. Whether intended or not, the feeling of claustrophobia in Affinities seems to carry with it room to at least ponder just how deep the complexity goes. And if things weren’t complicated enough, Goethe is brought up. For those interested in seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes, there is a nod to Goethe’s Elective Affinities. While it will provide more place for traction, it will certainly be without solace for the questions brought up in Affinity, with or without Goethe, bear the mark of great art: They keep the conversation going.”
As per "Goethe is brought up", the name "Goethe" does not seem to have been mentioned directly in the film.
Universal | Review
The following is a 2011 ElUniversal.com (Ѻ) review:
|Madrid.- Los actores cubanos Jorge Perugorría y Vladimir Cruz se estrenan en la dirección de largometrajes con "Afinidades", una película sobre la crisis de valores, la infelicidad y las lealtades que se presenta como una metáfora de lo que pasa hoy en Cuba, aunque, eso sí, con un formato muy caliente. |
Porque la película, con guión de Cruz sobre la novela "Música de cámara", de Reinaldo Montero, a su vez inspirada en "Las afinidades selectivas", de Goethe, va desvelando profundas lagunas interiores a través de los distintos encuentros sexuales de los personajes, dos parejas dispuestas a todo, si bien, por distintos motivos.
"El punto de partida fue colocar personas infelices en un lugar paradisíaco, como una metáfora de Cuba donde la naturaleza es fantástica, el paisaje maravilloso y sin embargo la gente tiene problemas de todo tipo", explicó Cruz a un grupo reducido de periodistas, entre ellos, EFE.
"Afinidades", rodada en el idílico y poco conocido paraje de la Laguna del Tesoro de Guamá, en Matanzas, ha contado con un equipo integrado por "toda la gente con la que aprendimos a hacer cine en Cuba", ha detallado Cruz: desde el director de arte, Derubín Jacome, que fue profesor suyo, al veterano productor Camilo Vives.
En la cinta, Cruz es Bruno, un físico teórico empleado de Néstor (Perugorría) que teme por la continuidad de su puesto de trabajo, casado con Magda, una mujer joven y romántica, sin mucha experiencia de la vida, que interpreta la debutante Gabriela Griffith.
Néstor, un alto cargo de una empresa con capital extranjero, está casado con una abogada española, Cristina, personaje que encarna Cuca Escribano ("El camino de los ingleses", "Los aires difíciles"), a la que "no le da miedo nada y le gusta todo", según ella misma explica en la película.
"Cristina es positiva las 24 horas del día: da, da y da -explicó Cruz-, pero cuando deja de dar no recibe. Es infeliz, y en eso coincide con Bruno, a quien tampoco le funciona la fórmula de la vida".
"El caso de Néstor es distinto; es un manipulador real que utiliza su poder para jugar con los que tiene debajo", de hecho, añadió Cruz, simboliza la quiebra profunda de los valores de la revolución, algo que "es la primera vez que se dice en el cine cubano abiertamente".
Y Magda "es la peor, porque encarna la falta de escrúpulos de las nuevas generaciones; ella aprende de Cristina y al final es la que va más allá en los límites".
"A nosotros, más que dar respuestas, lo que nos interesaba era tocar ciertos temas que están muy presentes en la sociedad cubana: para qué sirve la libertad; hacia dónde vamos, o qué importancia tiene el individuo con todas sus miserias", reflexiona el director.
Y en el mismo sentido, añade: "si podemos seguir diciendo que todos somos iguales, todos nobles y buenos, o lo que es lo mismo, mantener la teoría del socialismo, de esa igualdad inexistente. O vamos a la profundidad oscura de nosotros mismos y la aceptamos, o no podremos ir a ningún sitio", concluyó Cruz.
El actor, que disculpa la ausencia de su compañero Perugorría, de rodaje en Cuba, reconoció que la experiencia de codirigir y coprotagonizar una película ha sido "agotadora", pero muy satisfactoria, y que para ello ha sido clave "la gran amistad, respeto y admiración" que se tienen.
Los actores, que coincidieron ya hace más de una década en "Fresa y chocolate", el primer largometraje de ficción de Tomás Gutiérrez Alea y Juan Carlos Tabío, están convencidos como directores de que "el futuro de Cuba, y el de muchos otros lugares, pasa por el individuo, por la esperanza y la felicidad en medio de esa incertidumbre por el futuro", afirma Cruz.
|MADRID Cuban actors Vladimir Cruz and Jorge Perugorría are released in the direction of feature films with "Affinities", a film about the crisis of values and loyalties unhappiness that comes as a metaphor for what is happening today in Cuba, but, yes, with a very hot format.|
Because the film from a screenplay by Cruz on the novel "Chamber Music" by Reinaldo Montero, in turn inspired by "Selective affinities" of Goethe, deep lagoons unfolds through various sexual encounters characters two couples willing to all, although for different reasons.
"The starting point was to place people unhappy in paradise, as a metaphor for Cuba where nature is fantastic, wonderful scenery and yet people have all sorts of problems," said Cruz to a small group of journalists, among them, EFE.
"Affinities", shot in the idyllic setting of the little-known Treasury Laguna Guamá, in Matanzas, has had a team of "all the people I learned to make films in Cuba" team has detailed Cruz: from art director, Derubín Jacome, who was his teacher, veteran producer Camilo Vives.
In the film, Cruz is Bruno, a theoretical physicist employee Nestor (Perugorría) who fears for the continuity of his job, married to Magda, a young and romantic woman, without much life experience, who plays the newcomer Gabriela Griffith.
Nestor, a senior official of a company with foreign capital, is married to a Spanish lawyer, Cristina, a character who embodies Cuca Escribano ("The Summer Rain", "Rough Winds"), which "is not afraid nothing and likes everything, "as she explains in the film.
"Cristina is positive 24 hours a day, da, da and da Cruz explained, but when you stop to not receive is unhappy, and that coincides with Bruno, who also did not work the formula of life.".
"Nestor's case is different; it is a real manipulator who uses his power to play with beneath it" in fact, Cruz added, symbolizes the fundamental breakdown of the values of the revolution, which "is the first time it is said openly in Cuban cinema. "
And Magda "is the worst, because it embodies the ruthlessness of the new generations, she learns of Cristina and the end is beyond the limits."
"To us, rather than giving answers, what we wanted was to play certain issues that are very present in Cuban society: what good is freedom; where we are going, or how important is the individual with all its misery," reflects the principal.
And in the same sense, he adds: "If we can continue to say that all are equal, all noble and good, or what is the same, keep the theory of socialism, that nonexistent equality Or will the dark depths of ourselves. and accept it, or we can not go anywhere, "he said Cruz.
The actor, who excuse the absence of his partner Perugorría, filming in Cuba, acknowledged that the experience of co-directing and co-star in a film has been "exhausting", but very successful, and that this has been key, "the great friendship, respect and admiration "you have.
The actors, who agreed more than a decade in "Strawberry and Chocolate" ago, the first feature film by Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio, as directors are convinced that "the future of Cuba, and many other places , through the individual, hope and happiness amid the uncertainty about the future, "says Cruz.
|The famous "quark scene" from Afinidades, wherein Bruno, third inward (above), explains how quark pairs [mesons], and the character of the forces (gluons) that hold them together, are similar to human pairs [dihumanides], and that this helps us to understand the nature of things, such as sexual interactions; the scene is a modern-day attempt at the famous four-character dialogue of chapter four of Goethe's Elective Affinities, wherein the Captain explain how the operation of the affinities (chemical forces) hold and separate people (as chemicals) in various unions and bond changes.|
Quarks | Humans
See main: Social fermionsThe following is the quark pairs are like human pairs scene:
“Quarks are smallest particles in the universe and they only come in pairs.”— Bruno (2010), four people at pool scene (32:27)
“Like us?”— Christina (2010), comment to Bruno
“Pairs can’t be separated, because the farther apart they are, the stronger the attraction is, and the closer they get the more they ignore each other.”— Bruno (2010), continuation
“Just like I said. Just like us.”— Christina (2010), general comment
“Yes, honey, just like you and me.”— Nestor (2010), interjection comment to Christina
“Then it is through these particles behavior ….”— Bruno (2010), discussion continued (32:43)
“Well, I’ve already heard it one hundred times.”— Magda (2010), interjection
“They calculate that it would require the energy equivalent to the third second after the big bang to separate them.”— Bruno (2010), discussion continued (32:57)
“Would it really? How impressive!.”— Christina (2010), interjection comment
“Is there a point to all this?”— Magda (2010), interjection
“It helps us to understand the nature of things.”— Bruno (2010), discussion continued
“What things?”— Magda (2010), interjection; before leaving to dive into pool (33:06)
Scene is followed, without dialogue, by Bruno and Christian, later, "having sex" (answer to Magda's question), in the grass, off to the side of he pool.
|The freedom vs security scene (48:28) discussion, at the restaurant while watching the show.|
The following is the freedom vs security scene:
“Do you know what I really want from life?”— Bruno (2010), four people at restaurant show scene
“What I want is freedom.”— Bruno (2010), answer
“Freedom …. Freedom doesn’t exist, and besides … is overrated.”— Nestor (2010), response to Bruno
“Who is truly free?”— Nestor (2010), continuation
“I can’t believe it’s you who tells me that.”— Bruno (2010), comment
“Listen Bruno, in today’s world, what people really long for is security. We all want it, including you. What you want is a contract. One that ties you down, but give you money. That’s as close as one can get to the illusion of freedom.”— Nestor (2010), continuation
“And I want to be happy. Does happiness not exist either?”— Magda (2010), interjection
“And I want a cubalibre! I hope that, at least, exists.”— Nestor (2010), conversation detaching comment (49:05)
“Freedom is the ability to use your free will to get something, in this case four cubalibres!”— Nestor (2010), returning from the bar with drinks comment (51:04)
The following is the correlative quote from the original version:
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
("Niemand ist mehr Sklave, als der sich für frei hält, ohne es zu sein.")— Goethe (1809) Elective Affinities (P2:C5) 
The seeming paradox between freedom and security, also, to note, is the main subject of Frederick Rossini's 1971 "Chemical Thermodynamics in the Real World", wherein he asserts that the compromise between entropy and enthalpy in social system reactions explains the paradox.
|A comparison of the "sound foundations" scene from Goethe's Elective Affinities (P1:C9) as compared to the "good foundations" scene from Cruz's Afinidades (chapter four: 25:56-min), which is either a metaphor for the foundations of marriage or the foundations for one's theory of existence.|
The following is the “foundations” are important scene dialogue:
“I like our cottage. It’s strong, although it’s built on mud. It must have good foundations. Foundations are important. Even if you can’t see them.”— Nestor (2010), general comment, with the other three, while rowing the boat (25:56) past their bungalow on stilts
“I like it too, just because it’s asymmetrical. I hate symmetry, it’s awfully boring.”— Bruno (2010), reply to Nestor’s comment
The following, from Goethe’s version (P1:C9), is the famous “foundations” quote:
“Three things are to be looked to in a building: that it stand on the right spot; that it be securely founded; that it be successfully executed.”— Mason (1809), foundation stone laying address spoke in verse; James Froude (1854) translation
“Three things have to be taken into account when erecting a building: that it stand on the right spot, that the foundations are sound, that it is well constructed.”— Mason (1809), foundation stone laying address spoke in verse; R.J. Hollingdale (1971) translation
"Three things are necessary for a building: that it be rightly situated, that it have a good foundation, and that it be properly constructed.”— Mason (1809), foundation stone laying address spoke in verse; Judith Ryan (1988) translation
The key search “good foundations” + “Elective Affinities”, to note, turns up the following 1871 religion-siding statement by John Phelps Fruit, an Edgar Poe poetry (Ѻ) scholar of sorts: 
“The destiny of marriage may be profitably discussed in the light of this introduction. Manhood and womanhood is the most significant instance of the inevitable dualism that bisects nature. If the man and the woman were destined for each other, why not the individual man for the individual woman? Suppose we have given a certain individual man: there is only one individual woman who could be most congenial to him, whose life joined to his would make the most harmonious life. The theory of elective affinity has a good foundation, but cannot be carried out in practice to the extent that Goethe advocates in his story of Elective Affinities. For if a man fail to find his "affinity," he must endure his choice, though he see afterwards his destined beloved another man's. Free-will entails this. Society, of which he is a member, which is wiser than himself, and stands somehow for the will of god, demands that he abide the consequences of his own injudicious choosing. There are many marriages in which god's destiny is consummated, but there are too many which man has fixed.”
Church | Footpath
The following is the dialogue that follows the "good foundations" dialogue:
“Have you lost something dear?”— Christina (2010), query to Bruno, while on the boat, who is look around
“Ever since yesterday I’ve been looking for a village … a church … and a footpath.”— Bruno (2010), reply to Christian (26:12)
The seeming-equivalent statement of Goethe’s version might be the following:
“The birthday was come, and everything was ready. The wall was all complete which protected the raised village road against the water, and so was the walk; passing the church, for short time it followed the path which had been laid out by Charlotte, and then winding upwards among the rocks, inclined first under the summer-house to the right, and then, after a wide sweep, passed back above it to the right again, and so by degrees out on to the summit.”— Narrator (1809), opening paragraph to P1:C9 of Elective Affinities, prior to the foundation stone speech
|A depiction of the turn away from "socialism" of the Marx-Engels (Marxism) + Lenin (Leninism) variety, which has dominated the Cubin society in the last half-century, and an instinctive turn towards the physico-chemical naturalism espoused by Goethe, i.e. Goetheanism, in his human chemical theory, a realism-based, philosophically-grounded. modern Epicureanism, in some sense.|
A significant portion of the film focuses on loss of values in the 1990 to 2000s Cuban socialism, following the 1959 revolution, which tipped into the period following the 1991 Soviet collapse, which led into the “special period” of Cuba, wherein Soviet subsidies ceased. The Cuba Constitution of 1976, which defined Cuba as a socialist republic, was replaced by the Constitution of 1992 which is guided by ideas of Jose Marti and the political and social ideas of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin, i.e. Marxism-Leninism. (Ѻ) Some film dialogue on this is as follows:
“Thankfully, we still have socialist as ethics ….”— Nestor (2010), Nestor, Magda, and Bruno laying at pool
“Ethics or erotica? Because some of us still get f*cked the hard way.”— Bruno (2010), reply to Nestor
It may be likely that Vladimir Cruz, the author of Afinidades, was named by his parents after "Vladimir" Lenin the main curator of socialism; similar to how many of Christian-faith nationality are named either Christopher or Mary; or how many of Islamic-faith nationality are named Muhammad; and that he is revolting against his culturally-passed beliefs.
The film also, at one point, discusses the incorrectness of the everybody’s equal theory, i.e. "equal workers in a workers state" Marx-Lenin ideology. The generally alluded to, but not stated explicitly, moral of the story is that Goetheanism is light out of the darkness of socialism, but one wherein the rules of engagement have not yet fully been worked out.
The following shows each character: Bruno/Captain (Vladimir Cruz), Magda/Ottilie (Gabriela Griffith), Christian/Charlotte (Cuca Escribano), and Nestor/Edward (Jorge Perugorria), each labeled (A,B,C,D), as a different chemical species, according to the Goethe lettering scheme (itself based on the Bergman lettering scheme):
Location | Hotel Guama
The film takes place at Hotel Guama, Cuba, as shown below, which is comprised of 44 independent cabins or bungalows made of wood and ceiling of guano, is accessible solely by sea, via a passage of 20 minutes on the boat of old Captain Jesus. (Ѻ) This interesting factoid enacts, as would seem to be the case, the membrane transport mechanism of the semi-permeable “boundary” of the system. The other "guests" (chemical species) in the film are Russian, a language spoken by one of the characters, hence enacting a barrier to reaction with the four main characters (reactants); the guests, in a sense, becoming inert noble gas like molecules roaming about the system, but incapable of the more powerful sexual interactions potentials.
This isolation aspect enacts the roll of the isolated boundaried "estate" of Goethe's Elective Affinities; very-impressive choice.
|Top: the pool scene where the characters discuss the forces operating between quarks, and how the strength increases when they are pulled apart, similar to humans in relationships. Bottom: the view of graveyard (37:19), symbolic of death, seen by female A (Christian) as she embraces (hugs) male C (Bruno) C, who in turn looks out at female D (Magda) embracing male B (Nestor) on a boat off in the distance.|
The following are related quotes:
“The film [Afinidades] takes place inland on fresh water and its time is quite different from what we are used to in our contemporary cinematography. We are only trying to meditate about the human being and their complexities, facing emptiness and the lack of rational explanation for many of the problems of the contemporary world, sometimes appearing that the only way out is to take refuge in instincts. Those instincts lead to sex. At least this is the way out that the protagonists of this story find: sex as a way of electric discharge so as to keep themselves alive, the manipulation of others as a way to cast out impotence and reaffirm personalities lacerated by loneliness. But the result is ephemeral and the attempt has unforeseeable consequences.”— Vladimir Cruz (2010), “Interview” (Ѻ), Jun 18
“Afinidades explores sex as a means of manipulation and escape from an existential void.”Quotes | Film— Victoria Alcala (2012), “20 of the best Cuban films, 2006-2011” (Ѻ), Jan
The following are other noted quotes from the film:
“There are more molecules in [a drop of] water than there are stars in the universe.”— Bruno (2010), opening credits
“Nothing is forbidden here, not even to covet your neighbor’s wife.”— Nestor (2010), scene where guy is talking to other guy, after rain storm, shoveling water out of escape boat; as discussed by Goethe on 29 Jan 1830 (see: Goethe timeline)
“There’s a graveyard behind the cottage, isn’t that strange?”— Christina (2010), woman speaking, while about to lie in the green grass, like an angel; graveyard and tombstone rearrangement take place in Elective Affinities (chapters: add)
“Only in unhappiness, do the questions get asked.”— Magda (2010), scene with Nestor in boat (35:22); response to his midlife crisis dialogue
“The energy of collision has been absorbed.”— Bruno (2010), in response to query “did you hear me”, while the four are talking (Ѻ) on boat; reminiscent of the way William Thomson talked to his wife and Alfred Lotka's trigger action
“Nothing belongs to us my friend, and admitting this is the only way to avoid the pain of loss.”
— Nestor (2010), comment to Bruno (40:00), after Bruno says “let me speak to my wife”
See also“To jump orbits, you need a lot of energy. And you need balls.”— Nestor (2010), comment to Bruno (see: social orbital theory; human molecular orbital theory), during dinner show (58:30), while women are in bathroom making out, about his statement that he would leave the company (or country) if he was left out of the buyout
● Elective affinities scale
● Tom Stoppard | Arcadia
1. Nuffer, Corey. (2011). “Film Review: Affinities (Afinidades)” (Ѻ), GoZamos.com, Jun 27.
2. Goethe, Johann. (1853). Goethe's Opinions on the World, Mankind, Literature, Science and Art, (translated by Otto Wenckstern) (pg. 3). John W. Parker and Son.
3. Fruit, John P. (1891), “The Destiny of Marriage: Portia and the Caskets”, in: Poet Lore, Volume 3 (pgs. 69-74; quote, pg. 69). AMS Preprint.
● Covet your neighbor’s wife (2015)
● Afinidades (film) – Wikipedia.
● Vladimir Cruz – Wikipedia.