25 years filmmagazine shomingeki!
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It might have been pure accidental but
the programming of Malick´s Knight Of Cups and Guzman´s El Botón de
Nacár was a very lucky one. Both directors have go a nearly legendary
reputation when they were in their Thirties and both filmmakers are
hunted by grieve and losses of their personal biography.
Like expected Knight Of Cups is like
Malick´s two previous films autobiographic inspired. Even
though made with proper Hollywood budgets, his last films are rather radical manifestations of the french term “Caméra Stylo” in the
sense of Truffaut as radical personal films. For all those who wonder
how I can love Ozu, Ford, Naruse, Hou Hsiao Hsien and Terrenca Malick
at the same time, I suggest there are two kind of great film maker.
The first kind was able to make an effort finding their place in
cinema where they can make the films they want. The second kind are
filmmaker who are Looking for their place in the (film)-world.
Terrence Malick, Ritwik Ghatak and Hiroshi Shimizu belong for my side
to this second group whom I call “searchers”. Their creative
energy is mostly absorbed by this search-movement. Christian Bale´s
Rick is like Jack in The Tree of Life and Neil in To The Wonder )whom
I will suggest as Malick´s Egos) a driven person looking for his
place in the world. Interestingly this searching aspect of Malick is also reflected in his most impressive female characters played
ny Linda Manz, Q´Orianka Kilcher or Olga Kurylenko. Most of Malick´s
characters are uprooted. If they have a home, they will loose it.
After To The Wonder, Knight Of Cups
takes place even more in urbane and contemporary landscapes. In both
films we see a lot of homeless people whose misfortune correspondents
with the mental situation of the main protagonists.
In all carefulness in stressing the
term of “autobiographic elements" too much I have the strong feeling
that sometimes more and sometimes less encrypted Malick embeds very
personal confessions related to a more global vision of the world. If
we follow Niles Schwartz in his definition of The Tree of Life as a
requiem for his late brother and if we follow Rob Turner who
interpreted To The Wonder as among other aspect as well as an elegy
on Malick´s second wife, Rick in Knight of Cups is script writer and
as a creative person most close to Malick. If we see them all as
reflections of Malick himself, we have to notice they are rather
traveled and failed and at best looking for their place in the world.
The film begins with a recitation of
Rick´s father. It is a story of a prince from the East sent from his
father to look in Egypt for a pearl. But the prince drinks the wine
of forgetfulness. Even though his father sent him signs, the prince
remains lost. In strange way the introduction is an echo of the
tragedy of Pocahontas uprooting from her tribe in The New World.
Since Malick´s collaboration with
Emanuel Lubezki and his fluid mostly handheld camera movements became
one dominant element in Malicks films since The New World, this
stylistic element became an adequate physical transmission of the
mental conditions of its protagonists.
In several shots we see Rick alone and
lost in a desert like the adult Jack in The Tree of Life. We do not
just see Rick searching for a way out of the desert, the camera
movements make this inner search traceable in a concrete physical way
cinema can offer.
The apartment he lives in seems to big
for him and he often seems as lost as in the desert. The thin and
fragile illusion of a home and protection is shattered by an
earthquake. As natural and physical affecting phenomenon it reflects
also the mental quakes of a disturbed life, the loss of his younger
brother who probably committed suicide and the very difficult
relationship to his father. Later Rick will be attacked by armed
robber in his apartment. They are angry because there is not much to
rob in this apartment. The kind Malick´s characters live in his last
two films are provisional arrangements.
The film is structured in several
chapters all called after Tarot-cards. Well for some critics who are
blind enough to call Malick´s films are esoteric they will find
another pseudo-proof. For me it is just another proof for Malick´s
refreshing inspirations and his daring playfulness. And there is also
again talk about the non-existence of a proper script. And if it is
so, than it is another proof for Malick as one of the most inspired
filmmaker of our time and last but not least he might follow the
tradition of a Chaplin or a Shimizu, who often worked with not more
than some pages of vague notes.
While we see Rick trying to fill his
emptiness and his depressions with parties and Sex as a replacements
for his failed relationships to women, he seems for a while totally
absorbed be the neon lights of a pseudo reality, the mask of the
modern neoliberal American capitalism Almost literally when he leaves
this illusory world he stumbles over homeless people in the real
streets of Los Angeles. Also reality and the illusory world are here
dramatized through the contrast of artificial and natural light.
Like in The Tree Of Life the father-son
conflict has here a lot of weight. Rick´s rebellion against his
father is also a rebellion against the definition of a grim god , Job
had to deal with. This goes with Malick´s gentle definition of God
as pure love. Rick´s “pilgrimage” goes through excesses and very
concrete physical desires. But in Malick´s world, these physical
desires often distorted by drug-like excesses are part of this
pilgrimage. To find the meaning of our existence, it is a crime to
ignore the body as the most important evidence of the creation. There
is hardly any film director alive with such a deep love and
admiration for the bodies of living creatures. Rick´s addiction to
women is his problem. The prostitutes he meets are both, reflections
of his desires but at the same time persons with a soul. The
definition slut or whore do not exist in Malick´s cinematic world at
all. He is a poet and not a judge.
In Knight of Cups we see a lot of
devices, machines, men-made things. Very often we see Helicopters
flying. Artificial lights in the streets at night, in bars or at
parties. Especially these devices , I see as metaphors for the device
of cinema, the image-making apparatus. As a contrast to this world of
machines, the technical aspect of cinema included we see as well the
nakedness of the existence of living creatures. Christian Bales´face
is mostly stuck in despair, depression as a lost soul.
There are many car rides in this film
in a total synchrony with the fluid camera movement. The more this
film reveals all these devices which are part of our civilization,
the more his fluid camera reveals a cultivation of the cinematic
apparatus, paradoxically we feel more and more our own nakedness. We
are not too far away from the several homeless people in the streets
of Los Angeles.
A woman saves with her bare hand a wasp
against drowning in a swimming pool. A caressing gesture which moved
me (who really hates wasps) to the bones. Despite all his use of the
devices modern film technology has to offer, Knight of Cups is first
of all symptomatic for the Cinema of Terrence Malick as an act of
grace. I am not blind for the eloquence in his use of this apparatus
of cinema and its cultivation. But what always moves me to tears and
what finally was the key in my attraction to his films are these
incredible gestures of tenderness, evidences of a deep love for the
living creatures. Terrence Malick is not only like Ritwik Ghatak an
important searcher and cultivator of cinema, he is also one of the
most compassionate director cinema has ever originated.
Rüdiger Tomczak a German version which is almost identical with the English original text is on my website
Thurs, Feb 11, Friederichstadtpalast 9.30 and 15.00
Sun, Feb 15, Friedrichstadtpalsst, 13.00
their son was missing a couple Irene and Christophe got separated.
Ten years later when the police finally finds the mortal remains of
the boy, the have to come together again. He lives in Mexico and she
is singing in a choir medieval polyphone songs.
A film in Black and White that evokes at the first glance in me two famous
names from film history: Carl Theodor Dreyer and Yasujiro Ozu. And
from Ozu especially his bleakest among his masterpieces Tokyo
Boshoku (Tokyo Twilight, 1957). his drama about
urbane life in Post War Japan.
the Over voice monologues in Chorus reveals how the protagonists try
to deal with their grieve and their loss the dialogues between Irene
and Christophe, Christophe and his father or Irene with her mother
are punctuated by pauses of silence. The dialogues have almost the
character of a recitation. Talking is in Chorus a difficult work,
every word is an effort. As a contrast to that, there is the
beautiful and fluid choral music, a music where different human
voices are in harmony with each other. These moments are like a
distant echo of a harmony of life which is lost. The film moves often between the longing of its characters for being part of the world and their isolation from their environment.
film opens with the confession of a pedophile prison inmate who has
killed their son. It is a long scene where we see the murderer
exposed to the camera and our view. Right at the end of the frame we
see the police investigator. This confession is the last action of
the perpetrator in the film. Later he will commit suicide. What we see at the beginning of the film is a person who is totally disconnected from the world.
invented for spectacular period dramas in competition to the rising television, this format was soon acquired by masters like Ophüls,
several Japanese directors and and also the upcoming auteurs of the
New European Cinema in the late 1950s. In a film by FrançoisDelisle,
this mighty format is used very flexible. It can give in one scene an
idea of the range of the world (Christophe on the beach in Mexico, his
view in to the night heaven full of stars) or the mighty space of a
church where the choir´s rehearsals take place) and in the next scene
it can evoke a loneliness and a total isolation of the characters
from the rest of the world. People seem captured with themselves and
their own reflections. The images have often very soft contrasts but a
lot of gray shades.
is winter in Quebec and if there is one film beside Ozu´s Tokyo
Boshoku which evokes the physical temperature of this season than it is
Chorus. Sometimes it seems the people are only talking and moving to
avoid freezing to death.
and Christophe are seen through the front window of a car which is
nearly identical with the cinema scope frame of the film. I think
there was a likely moment in Deslisle´s Toi from 2007. And like here
and even if the couple shares the same space they almost look more
lost than ever. There is only an echo of the close relationship they once had.
Iréne and Christophe try to keep the memories of their late son alive and
sometimes this holding of memories seems to keep themselves alive.
The murderer of their son releases a memory which has poisoned his
soul. Irene´s mother refuses to cultivate memories at all. She tries
to forget the death of her husband (who committed suicide), the death
of her grandson and her daughter´s marriage she never agreed to.
Later Iréne visits a nursery for old people to meet the mother of the son´s
murderer. But the old woman is dement and her memory is already in
the process of decay. One last time the couple looks at their son´s possessions storaged in a locker before they finally give them away. When Christophe returns to Montreal, he lives
at his father´s place. In the background we see often shelves full of books. Books are as well a storage of memories, the collective
memories of a civilization like the sheet music of the medieval
choral music and finally as well like chemical or digital
recorded images. Near the end they meet the class mate of their
son who is 18 years now and for a moment memory becomes literally a
Visible and the Invisible
cinema can´t visualize mental conditions, it needs the detour of
bodies to give an idea about mental conditions.The face of Fanny
Mallette´s Irene is close to Dreyer´s definition of the human face
as a landscape. What she might feel can only be read in her face in
sudden changes of expressions. That reminds me that Delisle´s women portraits are the most impressive ones I have seen in the last 20 years. Sébastien Ricard´s Christophe
reveals his vulnerability often through his whole body. There is a
remarkable strong moment when we see him lying on the beach exposed
to the tides of the ocean. Hoe the ocean waves move his almost
passive body is a moment which stays in my memory. While Irene and
Christophe are at any moment close to a breakdown, Genevieve Bujod´s
(Irene´s mother) face is almost unmoved like Chishu Ryu´s in Tokyo
Boshoku. All what she might feel, her grieve and loss is totally
hidden behind her face and all her life energy seems to be consumed
by the effort to forget all the pain in her life. The film has as
well the character of a painting set in a cold winter landscape where
each of its characters seem to be fight for surviving. Through the
very banal fact that winter (and especially in Québec) is a physical
very demanding climate situation we got more ideas about the mental
condition of the characters.
the end, the couple joins with their son´s class mate a Rock concert. Delisle is always very economic in using music in his
films but when he does it creates often very strong moments of
catharsis. They dance and for this moments they enjoy themselves. One
almost can feel the heat as a comfortable contrast to the winter
outside. Among the moving characters and the hard Rock rhythms it
evokes also this certain tenderness Delisle´s towards his
protagonists which was also evident in 2 Fois Une Femme from 2010. Delisle traces the smallest moments of hope for his desperate characters. Some of them become magical cinematic moments. If the characters rediscover their bodies they find back their souls.
I discovered the first film by François Delisle, Ruth in 1994 during the
World film Festival of Montreal, I was in a very dogmatic phase of
appreciating mostly films which tends to minimalism. Ruth seemed to
fit very good in this. Today and especially after his last three
films, I am sure there is no formula which fits for Delisle´s work
and even my mentions and comparisons between Chorus and Ozu´s film
have its limits. Even though his last three films are interesting
experiments with this mighty apparatus of film making like his
playfullness with narrative forms there is a very strong relationship
between what his films reveal and finally how they approach it. Even
more than his previous films, Chorus seems to be tight composed in
almost each frame. But what these frames finally evoke especially
about the film´s protagonists goes far beyond any formal experiment.
To use again my favorite definition of the German word Einstellung
(shot) by Wim Wenders: This German word includes not only the
technical term of film making but also the attitude you have towards
the things which are revealed it. Remember the opening sequence with
the perpetrator confessing his murder to a police investigator. We
see him first from the point of view of the investigator and after a
cut we see the police officer from his perspective. The same scene is
reveled much later in the film and this time as a video recording for Iréne and Christophe after the murderer has committed suicide. The
“spectators” Iréne and Christophe are more affected like us at
the film opening long before we learn anything about their tragedy. In
this repetition of a scene we remember we have to deal with the
mourning, loss and bitterness of the couple and at the same time with
the miserable fate of the perpetrator at the same time.Just alone this idea reveals what I would like to call "cinematic intelligence.
following breakdown of the couple turns the inner tremors to the
surface of the physical world. This is almost like an explosion in
this subtle and slow paced film, a moment when almost the mightyCinema Scope frame (an obvious tool of the cinematic apparatus) seems
to tremble. That is what I mean with this relationship in Delisle´s
films between the apparatus of image making and the naked
truthfulness it disclosed. It is not only a film about the
vulnerability of a mourning couple who has to deal with a big loss,
the film itself – or better the cinematic point of view (lets use
the German word Einstellung again) seems to be a precise interface
between between what we see and how we see it. I know – there is
much more to say about Chorus (which is for my side with 2 Fois Une
Femme Delisle´s finest film). François Delisles films and
especially his new film Chorusrepresent
an art of empathy.
Screenings: Sat, Feb 7, 14.00 Kino International Mon, Feb 9, 20.00 Cinemaxx 7 Tues, Feb 10, 17.45 Cinestar 3 Wed, Feb 10, 20.30 Cubix 7 Wed, Feb 9, 20. 30 Cubix 8
A film which does not really turn into
a narration. I remember during one of these great lectures on
“Dramaturgy of films" by Ernst Schreckenberg from “Komunales
Kino”, Dortmund once said that our memory works selective. What
remains of a film in the memory are often moments. Truffaut once
wrote that he had difficulties to reconstruct the story of a film he
just saw. His enthusiasm as a young cinephile also was often caused
by single moments.
The Days Run Away Like Horses Over The Hills presents every day fragments
of women, from a very cute toddler called Elise to old women.
Only at the first sight we have the
illusion that the film just films how life is without “ups and
downs” like Ozu once defined his ideal of a Cinema on every day
life. More or less the fragments we see in this film and which finally will be part
of our memory, are exactly the pendant to parts of our
life we probably forget very soon. That makes each moment very
fleeting and we forget for a moment that this film can be
watched again if on the screen or on DVD.
There is for example a young woman
taking care of our Elise as a day nanny. While Elise is walking
around opening cup boards, the young woman is resting on the floor.
This scene is filmed in a very Ozu-like Low position and as this film
is made in the classic Academy format, it accentuates more the
verticals in this frame. Through this low position, a toddler which
we usually see from above we now look up to the child. One can enjoy
this moment not only because of this cute toddler Elise but Elise is
also a very good introduction to this film, her curiosity inspirers
Three young women having a party in an
almost empty apartment, talking and dancing. Nothing important seems
to happen - we think for now. The idea filming every day moments which
seem banal and which we realize later as condensed like a Haiku is
very familiar to me because of Ozu and his incredible masterpiece Bakushu.
We see a young woman taking a shower
hidden by a shower curtain, protected against any voyeurism. Later she
puts her face on which is shown in close up. We see an image of her
and at the same moment she established an own image of herself. The
Black and White image turns colored.
The film moves to old women in
Poland. Even though the film remains recording every day moments, we
see the difference. These old women are in the middle or near the end
of their life. There is a long dialogue during an afternoon coffee
where an old women tells about a beloved person she has lost.
What I did n´t know during seeing this
film and what I read some days later in the press text in the
director´s statement that all persons who appeared were the
director´s former girlfriend, other friends, hist mother,
grandmother and their friends. Like in an Ozu-film these different
generations of women and this different living environments are
different approaches to find a place in life. The Days Run Away Like
Horse Over The Hills by Marcin Malaszcak is not a film you just watch,
it is a film which work in the memory days after you have seen it.
Watching is here to acquire what you have seen and finally edit in
your memory. And like in this film it happens often in cinema that
through fragmentation of the things revealed in the film the scope of the world is the more imaginable
Alice In The Cities is still my
favorite film by Wim Wenders. I remember having seen this film on a
Sunday afternoon on Television, I think it was 1974. The film was
quite young and the things revealed in it were at that time
contemporary. As the film takes place most of its length in the
region where I was born and grew up, it offered me both. First of all
it was probably one if not the first film I saw which I identified as
a film on my time, not to mention the locations in the second half.
The fictive part of the film, its Road Movie aspect made me dream
when I was a teen at that time.
It is a film where the real world and
Cinema came together and with reality I mean the real places and
things I was familiar with. At this time I did n´t know Ozu yet.
Many years later I discovered Wenders films for myself via the detour
When I think about
Alice In The Cities more than 40 years later, I try to imagine
how a Japanese who was a contemporary of Ozu has looked at the things
and the places in the films of the great Japanese film director.
A lot of buildings you see in this film
do not exist anymore. A coal miner settlement we see in one scene was
close after this scene was filmed demolished.
I remember a scene in one of these
ice-cafés which you could find in the region “Ruhrgebiet” in the
1960s and 1970s (Eisdielen) which were installed mostly by Italian
When I saw this film on this boring
Sunday afternoon, the reality the film evoked began just in front of
my door. Today the film is like a history book which supports my
personal memories in that time.
The film is like a monument which has
to replace the buildings and all the things which were specific for
the Western Germany of the 1970s and which are gone forever. I
remember a very short excerpt from the Rolling Stones-song Angie
which was exactly my favorite song in this very year. In these 40
years something happened with this film which could not have been the
intention of a very young Wim Wenders in the year 1973. The amber
which captured the things we see in the film was probably almost
fluid and transparent in 1974 and this feeling I had for this “Now
and Here” became a memory.
Nearly the first half of the film takes
place in America which was for me in 1974 quite an abstract dream but
for me hard to reach at this time. America was a landscape which
existed at this time for me almost entirely through cinema.
One of the movements of this film is
the failed journey of a German writer. When his America excursion
fails he has to return to Germany. Before he can return to his sad
every day life he will be involved with a young mother and her
daughter. Back in Germany he has to care for a while for the girl,
because the mother´s return from America is delayed. Bugged at the
beginning by his father like duty for this child forced on him, his
actually journey just begins.
I am not sure but I can´t imagine to
have seen in 1974 this odyssey through a region very familiar to me
as engrossed as I see it now. I am only sure about one thing the
whole film as a resolution of Cinema and reality must have impressed
me a lot – or at least I felt comfortable with it.
Like we know today the two homages to
John Ford in this film were pure accidental: The excerpt of Young
Mr. Lincoln in Rüdiger Vogler´s hotel television set and the
big article in the newspaper on the death of John Ford “Versunkene
Welt” (Sunken World).
Wenders once said that the death of
John Ford just happened when he shot this scene. This shot became
over the years much more weight for me, because in these 40 years
John Ford became one of my favorite directors.
Together with Mr. And Mrs. Iyer
by Aparna Sen and Arigato-San by Hiroshi Shimizu, Alice In
The Cities is not just one of my most beloved Road Movie but a
As I wrote once on Cambodian Cinema
before the genocide or on a Korean Silent film screened two years ago
in the Forum, sometimes one can sense the ghosts of the people who
have seen and lived with these films. And when my generation gone and
when it will be forgotten, this film will still give in 30 or more
years an idea of how and where we have grown up in this very concrete
piece of German geography.
The film is about 100 minutes long and
about as long as a walk of a family near the mountain KanchenjunghaThe family spends here their last holiday. In the background we see
always the mighty mountain landscape whose existence seems to be
everlasting compared with the span of a human life. Paths delimited
by walls and balustrades are leading through this landscape – and
behind this demarcations one forebodes dizzying abyss. The free
moving space of the people (who walk through this landscape are
reduced on the limited space of man-made paths.
Kanchanjangha is a film about
limitations. That concerns the limitation of the film´s length its
frames and the very concrete and visible demarcations of the paths.
One even does not dare to think about deviating from this
demarcations because they are the border between the part of the
landscape which is accessible for men and the dangerous and
The father Indranath Roy represents the
societal power, a big industrialist who even considers the planned
arranged marriage of his barely 20 years old daughter as an important
economical business. He is someone who knows how to establishes power
if under the colonial rule of the British or under the rule of an
independent India. The brother of Roy´s wife is only interested in
the beauty of the birds and he has no interest in being involved in
the intrigues of men and their power which makes him to a close
relative of Manmohan Mitra in Rays last film Agantuk. The daughter
Roy's, Manisha is supposed to subordinate all her wishes for the
benefit of her father´s plans. They expect from her what Roy's wife
and an elder daughter already did.
During this walk all characters will go through a transformation or they will find a new cognition about themselves.
The youngest son of this family flirts
randomly with female tourists. During these excursions, the film
jumps from one person to another or from one constellation of persons
to the next. In one scene we see the daughter Manisha walking with
the man which is chosen by her father as her prospective husband on
these narrow paths. Later she meets Anil, a young man whose uncle
once worked as a tutor family.
The eldest daughter tries during this
walk to discuss the problems of her relationship with her husband
while their child who finally will be the reason that the couple
stays together) is riding a pony. They talk about divorce and finally
find a compromise. The woman (an actress) tears the love letters of
a lover and the husband promises to give up his guilty pleasures.
These characters who are close to a
primal landscape which begins just right behind the road side are far
away from their urbane home. It seems that for moments some of the
characters are getting rid of the constraints of an urbane upper
Labanga , the mother has objections in
the plan to marry her daughter with a stranger and as his wife she
suffers most under the power of the patriarch Roy. In a very moving
moment, she sits on a bank and sings a song by Tagore. The only
person who listens to her is the brother who loves birds.
Anil, the young man who is looking for
work rejects a job offered by Indranath Roy because he is disgusted
by the arrogance of this rich man.Later he will admit to Manisha that
he never had dared to reject such an offering in his home town
Kolkata. But here in this wild landscape he felt enabled to do so.
The man who is chosen as the wedding
candidate for Manisha separates himself from Manisha. During the walk
with her he realized that she never will marry him by her own choice.
They separate almost amicable. He just takes another path and he
won´t appear anymore in this film.
Later the young woman will bid farewell
to Anil and expresses her hope to see him again in Kolkata. The film
ends where sympathies develop between the young people. Just the
notion that both of them came closer to each other seems here almost
like a Happy End.
Kanchanjangha is not a very long film
and though it seems paradoxically like an eternity from which see
just a few more than 100 minutes which seem to be visible just by
In a strange way the contrast between
the mighty mountain landscape and the people moving on strict
demarcated ways appears nearly dramatic. There is the landscape in
and beyond the demarcations of the paths and the inner world of the
characters who act in conventions - and seldom beyond it.The
landscape beyond human actions is always visible but it seems as
something engrossed from human concepts
It has been told that the film was shot in 28
days but sometimes it evokes the illusion that it is shot just during
At the very end we see the patriarch
Roy alone on a path. The day is going to end. He calls his family.
Nobody answers. In this moment the old man seems to sense for the
first time that his power is neither unlimited nor infinite. Now, he
is not more than a mortal being surrounded by this mighty landscape.
Even though the persons, things and the
landscape appear just as what they are, the whole film seems to be as
engrossed like a dream And even though this film takes place on
demarcated paths the landscape beyond of this mighty Kanchenjungha
appears as a strange world of its own. Also present is the abyss just
a few metres behind the paths. There is a remarkable moment when we
see Manisha standing on one of this narrow roads. A horseman passes
by. One is scared that he will hit Manisha. He passes by a hair. And
at all – the characters move with an almost somnambulistic
precision like the abyss beyond the man made paths are no risk for
Kanchanjangha is made during a period
where Ray made one wonderful film after the other. The fact that this
film remained relatively unknown and that it was mostly shown on
retrospectives in the last decades is for me hard to believe. Among
Ray admirers it is a kind of insider tip. If the film might be one of
Rays most beautiful films (what I believe) or if it is one of Rays
most daring experiments is of no consequence. My visions of Rays
complete work has changed enduring since I have seen this film. I
like to see the work of a filmmaker as a versatile and complex
landscape. Some paths through this landscape are well known and
proven, others are abandoned and forgotten but lead through a part of
a landscape which a like an exciting discovery.
(translated from a German text in
shomingeki No. 23, March 2011.)
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
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.