Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Notes on Wild And Precious by Bill Mousoulis, Greece/Australia/Italy: 2012
At the beginning, an aging Italian cinematographer called Giulio is introduced. Even though a fictive character, he talks directly to the camera. This opening takes place in Athens during the strikes and protest manifestations of the Greek people. It is the time of the social and economic crisis of Greece when the government brutally attacked the social existence of its own people for a crisis the people haven´t caused. Giulio is a chronicler and his monologue introduces his long experience in observing social protest movements, his opinion about the failure of the neoliberal order and ideology but also his loneliness. He calls himself a “Nowhere Man”. He is disgusted by his own country but is attracted in the Greek movement which is indeed a symbol for an awakening in Europe.
One reason for the vitality of the film is the playful reflection of arranged images and fiction and on the other side the facts like the protests and manifestations which happened at the time the film was shot. Giulio is working on a project on the protest movement in Greece. He is a chronicler between resignation and hope.
Later we see him returned to Italy in a town called Gorgonzola. He visits a woman with an 8 years old daughter. Finally we learn that the woman Irene is his wife and the girl Andrea his daughter. He abandoned them many years ago. If the couple is quite alienated from each other, the girl is almost a stranger to him. The dialogues between the couple suggests for now that they have arranged themselves with this separation. As the film proceeds it looks rather like the futile try to preserve a relationship which is already vanishing. The expression in face of Emanuela Zoccos Irene reminds me in its mixture of stoicism and vulnerability in Lisa Kreuzers lonely and abandoned women in some early films by Wim Wenders.
Back in Athens, Giulio is hired by an Australian TV-team. They want to make a film on the protest movement.Giulio is supposed to find place and finally images which are not shown in any conventional TV-report. While the TV team begins to look systematic for images, Giulio uses the focus lens of his camera sometimes like an extended eye for recognizing things he can not see with his naked eye. He always discover things nobody else sees.
This just recording images and the looking for details reminds me in André Bazins unfinished but still fresh questions of reality and cinema. It seems for me that Bill Mousoulis´ arranged images, the fictive element and the use of the cinematic apparatus have not other purpose than open our eyes and sharpen our perception for a reality which always exists as well beyond the frame.
The borders between document and fiction in Wild And Precious seem to be thin, sometimes even suspended. During the film we see a lot of cats and often a dog (called “Riot dog” in the credits). The animals enter and leave the frames and also the arranged fiction or the documented moments. Their appearances give an idea that even just an image of reality has always many layers. When we see Greek policemen with their gas masks and armed with gas munition we are also aware that they are eager to use them at the smallest sign of riot, an aspect almost deleted in most of news reports on Greece in 2012.
Wild And Precious is also a reflection on image making, recording images and what happens beyond. We see the TV team editing their first footage very focused. What happens at the same time in Italy with Irene, Andrea and their social environment seems to happen totally outside of consciousness of the image making Giulio - like in another dimension. Literally it happens out of Giulios framing the world.
As his life seems to split in two strings there are some small but very important links to these “two lives”.These moments evoke in me an undefinable melancholy like a bitter taste of homelessness. There is a wonderful moment when Giulio shoots footage in another Greek town. The first thing we see is a beautiful white cat passing by. While Giulio is looking through his camera, a teenage girl addresses him. She is shy and feels like she is disturbing him. For a moment Giulio turns his eyes from the camera and says to her “that she reminds him in his daughter." The weight of this short but intense moment is how he looks at the girl after tuning his eyes almost reluctant from his camera. Leaving for a brief moment his safety in "framing the world" in images” makes him suddenly vulnerable. The strange teenage girl becomes almost to a vision of his daughter some years later and she will probably a stranger to him like this Greek girl. A short moment like a Haiku poem.
Back in Italy for a few days, Giulio tries to restore the bound to his family he abandoned but his head is probably still occupied by the footage he still is supposed to shoot in Greece. He is talking to Irene about a place in Milan where he hopes to meet more often his family. It is amazing how Bill Mousoulis moved his focus from the protests in Greece, a concrete datable historic event to the reflection on image making and finally to the intimate sphere of Giulio, Irene and Andrea. Mousoulis creates a dynamic relationship between these elements.
As each image might be a choice, the result offers much more. Bill Mousoulis always opens the attention for the unexpected accidental moments of life which invade and leave the arranged frame. These moments have often a Haiku-like poetry. There is for example a sick looking very skinny cat. Later we learn that Andrea is very depressed because this cat is going to die. A neighbour is crying because her cat has disappeared.
At the end, Giulio is on his way back to Greece. The “Nowhere Man” disappears in the “Nowhere Place” airport like the film this fragment of the world disappears into the credits.
Wild And Precious is a rich and wonderful film experience. Even though I was very aware of the apparatus of image making, I almost can feel how the recorded film , a kind of artificial descends into my own biological one where it gets a life on its own. Suddenly small moments come to my mind like the film has a life of its own in my memory- and there is nothing I can do about it.
After its festival circulation the film is available optional with English, Italian or Greek subtitles under this web address.