Or cinema, viewing life without excess modesty, with self-confidence, talent, awareness for well passed way and a somewhat different point of view. This could be the impression of the set of films included in the main program of the Motovun Festival this year, elaborated with distinguished dashing. It was a mix of works of famous and prominent directors, films with numerous prestigious prices, as well as films, made by young directors, reflecting the world around us with a surprising maturity and balance of mind and in amazing harmony with the rest of their prominent colleagues.
Obviously the time has come when the Cinema is not to flirt with the spectator any more, not to underestimate him, not to treat him as a real connoisseur without any inhibitions. Probably with a right, evident from the full halls of the several movie theatres, the queues for tickets and the applauses after the last lines on the screen. Especially the sense of satisfaction of the members of FIPRESCI, by definition most likely difficult to achieve, if I have to speak more about myself and about my own vision about it, how precise there should be a critic by profession and how happy he should be by vocation.
However the general high choice level disarms each view, no matter if it is of a professional connoisseur or not. Nevertheless, I of course, shall get rid of the sense of satisfaction and in the next few lines I shall try to make a presentation and explanation of my emotions, using as an example one of the films, Alexandra’s Project directed by Rolf de Heer. There the main heroine, exemplary mother and wife makes the usually expected “surprise” to her prosperous husband for his birthday in the form of a video cassette, started by him, pouring himself a drink with a smile and a delightful expectation. Almost all the film deals with the viewing of this cassette and the reactions of the spectator, passing through several stages and various levels of compassion, pleasure and even anger and pain. The wife begins her performance with sentimental congratulations together with the children, all of them with glasses in their hands, joyful toasts and wishes. It seems that, here the complete genre scope of the family films is gone through as a level of perception and suggestions, with their wholesome values, refreshing sweetness and a well foreseeable and vitally necessary happy end. Later however, surprisingly there follows a slightly self-ironical striptease, tuning at a certain wave the birthday person who is ready for the party. The natural dance with stripping off clothes, played cleverly by the attractive wife reminds of a myriad of films or devices of effects, related to the love expectations or even erotic ones. The spectators have never complained sincerely from the erotic suggestions and here the main hero could not think even for a moment and is simply glorious from the view of this “present”.
From now on the film continues as a thriller, where the main hero experiences stress and horror, investigating the almost complete topical variety of the modern movies on the back of his own family life, because the striptease is brutally interrupted and his wife displays on her breast the initial phase of a cancer. The husband stops the video, falls in a real suffering, only to see later, that this is not the final version of the prepared surprise in this video cassette (the cancer was simply a “joke”), and only a stage in people’s expectations to be flattered, entertained, touched or scared with horror. Just from the cinema. The melodrama gives way to drama and tragedy.
At the end of all ups and downs of viewing, making the main hero perspire with hot and then with cold perspiration, a hand appears in the shot of his naked wife.
Probably it was then, when he suffers his greatest shock – in addition to jealousy, because soon he is going to follow on the screen the act of his own wife with another man. But at the sight of the unknown hand, caressing his wife, the husband feels a wild horror, that everything around him has not been as he would have liked it to, as he has imagined, as if his life had broken down in a moment. He has never been alone with his wife, and there was a hand, or eyes, following him, as they had now. Finally he was the observed one, the spectator is another person. He was observed even when he was watching video. Or when he was going to the cinema.
It is not necessary to tell anything more about this film, it is full of unexpected changes for the main hero. I have tried to illustrate the visual expression in this film of a slightly bombastic issue, as the one mentioned above – cinema, looking for the sense of its own existence and own role. Or in other more simple words, the point is – whether we are viewing pictures or the pictures are viewing us at the time of being viewed. Just so, neither more, nor less, the way of presentation of the matter is straightforward, the feeling, that all of us are in a hall with mirrors, and not in a movie theatre, is full. And whether everyone really makes the film of his own life and who is actually the main hero, we all participate.
Thus I think, that pleasing the spectator with good actors, cameras, high-level direction, the cinema does not consider any more the main issues of life, it is looking for the higher values and proceeds to a metaphoric and at the same time direct language with an exclusive sense of poetry.
No matter, that most of these films have been shown at other festivals as well, the flow of this general feeling as a mood and a trend (in my opinion it is expressed very seriously in this film), the feeling of surprise still remains in me.
Pleasant. Hoping to express it well in my face now.
© FIPRESCI 2003