Stock Soleil

Wow… Woah.

We have talked about movies we consider “great” before and how we can watch them for what they offer but not much for entertainment value on a Saturday night, Man With A Movie Camera being an example.  There were two screenings today, and both challenge convention and the viewer.

The short film A Letter to Uncle Boonmee was so serene…  Someone spoke in the discussion that you could meditate to it (or fall asleep) but I was surprised at how engaging I found it.  Mostly in the cinematography.  It was gorgeous and the slow pans drew me in to try and take it all in.  But it was all from an insider looking out perspective: most of it was looking out windows into the jungle; the light from the darkness.

Sans Soleil is also very calming, but in a different way.  I don’t want to say it is more blatant.. I think it is MUCH more experimental.  It doesn’t cover as specific topics as the former film (violence and repression) but focuses on human elements: memory, culture, history… Now, maybe I’m wrong but some of that is some big shit, and being such a large scope makes it more general in a way.  Traveling around to these different places (and filling in with some stock footage) makes some segments seem surreal, even something like the cat statues.  I don’t know anything about cultures that hold stuff like that in high regard, so I am to apply my own thoughts and experiences when the narration doesn’t interfere with my train of thought.

The narration is what shifts these films: there were a few things in Soleil I thought I could completely grasp.  She talked about a scene in Apocalypse Now,  that should be right up my ally.  I knew the scene, I love the scene, but it was applied in a new way to a culture I know barely anything of.

I will say that it was much easier for me to get lost in Letter because of the freedom: being more able to take it wherever I needed it to go.  Both have the narration.  Both are experimental narrations of some sort, but with less specific guidance, I found what I thought the film should give me in Letter.  Sans Soleil was enlightening, but I felt more detached.

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