Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Notes on Le Météore (The Meteor) by François Delisle, Quebec: 2012, Berlinale 2012

(International Forum)

Who is seeing this incredible landscape? Who sees the coyote, the mighty eagle, the moon the sundown, the waterfall, the waves of the sea, the mighty forest covered with snow?

The film begins with classical organ music and the first images we see are natural phenomenons, the sky, water, the matter of the material world we can sense.
There is no dialogue, only thoughts and reflections of some persons.
Pierre is in prison. Under influence of drugs he caused during a car accident the death of a young girl. His mother is almost 70 and beside visiting her son in jail she has as well to take care of her sister who is dying of cancer.
Pierre´s wife has cut off all ties with him. Other persons whose thoughts and reflections we hear as over voice are a drug dealer and a prison guard. This prison guard´s thoughts go between his own family problems and his compassion for the prisoners.

These characters are alone with their feelings thoughts. We are the only ones who are listening to them.
We share their loneliness. Their inner world becomes for a moment part of ourselves.

Pierre (interpreted by the director himself) is a little bit like the badly injured young soldier in Dalton Trumbo´s Johnny got his gun, a torso which lives almost only in his thoughts and feelings. Captured in his small prison with a small window with bars, the world outside is only this limited frame which is a contrast to the wide landscape we see, a landscape he can only dream of, or remember it.

His mother knows that she will be dead when her son will be released from prison. Suzanne, Pierre´s wife tries to begin new relationships. But we don´t know if what we see is only her wish, her reality or Pierre´s imagination.
Sometimes there are scenes we can call childhood memories, a boy swimming in the water, private super 8-sequences we assign to Pierre's memories. But we can n´t be sure at all.

Delisle´s use of CinemaScope is unique. It can in one moment open the eyes to an eternal landscape and in the next moment it can cause claustrophobia . Sometimes Pierre´s face dominates the frame of this extreme format. Sometimes we see Suzanne or Pierre´s mother sitting an a driving car. If the point of view is through the front shield, its wide, but if its shot from the side where we see these persons sitting in the car captured in their inner world the world begins to shrink.

Sometimes we are prisoners in a very heavy and weird dream, captives in a seat of a film theatre, between dreaming and being awake and sometimes we are like the eagle which can fly through the endless landscape.
Sometimes we are captivated by the thoughts, reflections of these mortal persons. And sometimes we are digressing and we don´t know anymore what are our thoughts and the thoughts evoked by the film´s fiction.

I don´t know anymore where I heard this. Was it the great Bengali master Ritwik Ghatak who said: “Film is the most abstract of all arts”?

It is very therapeutic getting back to the basics of the filmmaker´s craft, almost like a  Lumière -cameraman.” ( François Delisle) He is referring of his shooting of the landscape images, mostly only with the photographer Anouk Lessard and his son assisting him.

That evokes a thought in me from the perspective of “the other side”, not the filmmaker, but the audience and I think of the brothers Lumière and his famous film A Train arrives at the Station. Like we know there is a big difference between the fascination of the filmmakers Fascination for this once new technical invention called Cinema and in capturing this moment and the shock and the fear of the contemporary audience caused by this three-dimensional effect.

Emotions evoked by this film which is beautiful and in the next moment disturbing can be caused by a very concrete fact of the loss of these persons, of their loneliness or for example of the Pierre´s helplessness who once tells about how he was raped by another prisoner. But sometimes I am also moved by just a shot of the moon at night or an endless long sundown, moments engrossed from these members of a separated family, of this prison guard who is like us split between his compassion for the prisoners and his own problems.

Le Météore is also a film about the centrifugal and gravitation force.We change from being one of these characters into the eagle and the other way around.

And dammed - I know there is much more to say about a film which uses the relation between image , sound and spoken language in a likely boldness like for example Straub/Huillet, Marguerite Duras, Trinh T. Minha and Terrence Malick in his own unique way on the thin red line between narrative and experimental Cinema.
After the film festivals from Munich and Mannheim-Heidelberg, finally the International Forum of Young Cinema discovered François Delisle, one of the most inventive filmmaker from Independent Cinema from Quebec.

Rüdiger Tomczak

On the four previous films by Delisle you can find texts on the website of shomingeki
Except two texts all others are available in German and English.

Next screenings:
Cinestar Event:   12.02, 19.30
Cinestar 8:          13.02, 11.00
Cubix 7:             15.02, 15.00
Arsenal 1:          16.02, 22.00

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