Un film magnifique et envoutant.Albert G. Nigrin, directeur du festival international du New Jersey (USA)
THE STARTING POINT
I recalled that originally in Babylon, in ancient Greece and Rome, the City had been created in opposition to the forest which was omnipresent then and surrounded the few inhabitants. Dark like the night even during daytime, threatening, it seemed even more menacing as it sheltered wild beasts; its dense vegetation made orientation and timekeeping difficult. Whereas walls protected and separated. Yes, the City was erected to bring order to a confused world. It was a place where you didn't risk getting lost... contrary to the labyrinth which, strangely enough, is the image associated with today's cities. Why such inversion? Strange times.
From now on, the urban universe is the forest of heterogeneous and changing signs, always renewed: signage, advertising posters, neon signs, shop windows filled with merchandise of more or less short lifetime, television in bars, in medical offices, music, radio blaring in public places.We are constantly being solicited. We don't stop flicking channels, so that our experiences have difficulty undergoing sedimentation and tend instead to get reduced to shallow impressions, to scoops, to voyeurism.
A collection of chocks.
To garner this contemporary reality and its mutations, I wanted to place myself at the epicenter of all these upheavals, to compose in the disorder and return it in its atmosphere of chocks, inconstancy and incertitude, of turnarounds, of groping, of apathy and flicking.
THE STORY AND THE CHARACTER OF ANNE
If there is a story it doesn't cease to bifurcate. It does not unfold without snags, linearly and mono-directionally, but proceeds through jumps back and forth, by displacement, digressions.
If there is a character, Anne, she often seems lagging and perplex, torn between the fan of possibilities and solicitations, torn between her memory, reminiscences and the flow of the present. She is a writer who doesn't write any longer. A woman always hesitating which way to follow: she thinks or daydreams, and so does not act; she doesn't stop suspending action and poking holes in the situations she is in though her jumps.
Perhaps because she acts so little or not all, Anne observes a lot. Perhaps also the situation she's in, in spite of herself, as though 'locked' from the outside, idle, favors a greater availability and a new look into the city she no longer crisscrosses purposefully, or following a well established itinerary and automatisms of habit.
ANNE VISITS HER OWN CITY AS THOUGH SHE WERE A STRANGER
This wandering and the idle time it presupposes triggers a free play of correspondences and associations between what she sees and what she thinks. It's an interior debate that opens up as well as a particular space for fiction that interlaces, in a game of mirrors, vision and thinking. It's also a dialogue, a tight netting of fiction and documentary with several levels. If the movie has a meditative dimension, it is also strictly speaking an empirical and material observation. It is an attentive look to details, to the prints on the walls, to urban objects, to the faces of people strolling by, to the hands of bar patrons, to the body language of people waiting in a bus shelter...
This interweaving of documentary and fiction is my way of conciliating the cinema's different desires, to create a force field, a frame in which things will reveal themselves. It is also a way for me to free myself from exclusively logical links, of likely events, and reach new levels of reality. My aim is that, at times, one can't distinguish what is real from what is dreamt or imagined by the character.
THE VOICE OVER
As such, Anne is filmed from the exterior and the interior, but a slightly stranger interior since it is restored by a narrator with a different voice than Anne's.
In the movie, this voice is never found in body and flesh. It has no body nor flesh.
This Voice has thus a singular status: it doesn't say, "I", yet it is still an overarching and all-powerful view. It addresses the character in a weird torsion. It calls it in the familiar "you". And in doing so, as the images rolls by, imperceptibly shifting, it is addressing the audience. We don't know if this Voice has its own life, whether 'it' is in charge, and whether like a novelist it is inventing a tale with a character named Anne, or whether it's the other way around. The narrator may be a character invented by Anne or her conscience, this little voice, this entity present in
all of us and that demands that everything must have a meaning, that each life be a novel.
While Anne isn't able to write stories, the Voice of the narrator can't stop doing so.
This has nothing in common with writer's block. On the contrary: an excess of stories, a vertigo, no doubt a dispersion, at times a chaos, mirroring a confused times, excited and wary, a time of flicking, stupefaction.
THE DRAMATIC FRAMEWORK
Woven of heterogeneous elements, the movie recycles, puts together ancient texts, pieces of cities that reveal time's handiwork, the air of time. That is to say, the cutting plays a crucial part in this movie. It's made up of crisscrossing, of shifting, of superposed time. In fact, the more Anne sinks in to her wanderings, the more she sinks into her past.
But her personal trajectory inscribes itself in the framework of the collective future, and one passes without transition from the personal destiny to a collective history. The city itself is a real archive where different layers of History are buried. The past insinuates itself into the present, each parcel of space activates a fragment of memory. It's to say the city in this movie is not simply décor, but an active element, a matrix.
Reminiscing the past manifests itself as a whirlwind where personal reminiscences and fragments of the collective memory interlace by playing on associations, on echoes and on gaps as well. I like this idea of gap, that the movie is trying to do the splits by confronting the most pointed present with the most ancient past in order to concretely measure what has changed, all that changes, and at the same time what remains and links. The crux of the matter is not to remember but to learn to decipher.
BETWEEN THE ANCIENT AND THE NEW
I also like the idea that this movie shelters the odd dimension of the times. Ancient texts rub against telephone conversations of today, chords of modern day guitar hurl themselves against baroque music, car horns, news on the radio, even if sometimes it borders on cacophony. Long shots, where time dilates, contrast with nervous images that accelerate time. Lean passages, quasi-ethnological observations alternate with unbridled moments, more exuberant writing, more lyrical, saturated with sounds and images.
In these gaps and tight instances comes my ambivalence with respect to my epoch, a fixation with worry while passing through a profound curiosity, at times exaltation and other times a real spell. I would like through this movie to reach a 'non-contextual' view. Say it's a fiction gathering documents, news documents but as
though they were archives. Archives into which would have deposited the material
thickness of our epoch, that future generations would come and question to find out what it
was like to live in a transition period.
WHAT WILL THEY SAY OF OUR TIMES?
Anne wonders constantly. I filmed with this question in mind. Filming as though my epoch was passed, like an Egyptologist deciphering hieroglyphs, an archeologist ancient ruins. It is the distance I need to close-in to the real, to see better, like a painter stepping back from the canvas.
I share with Anne a 'lack of tranquility' and I often feel, like her, vertigo of the possibles.
But beyond the vertigo it is the necessity to choose that one must heed, must have the will to extract oneself from fate... conjure the haunting of a real threat, of a catastrophe in literal terms. What is urgent is to learn how to think through the labyrinth... And to live in it, you must start by accepting