Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gare Du Nord (1965)

WHO: Arguably the key figure in documentary filmmaking in the past sixty years, Jean Rouch, directed this. However, it's not a documentary but a narrative film.

WHAT: Gare Du Nord was Rouch's contribution to a six-film portmenteau produced by future director Barbet Schroeder, and the only one of the six films (also including contributions by Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Jean Douchet, and Eric Rohmer) to feature Schroeder in an acting role. Each of the six vignettes highlighted a particular section of Paris through the eyes of it's residents, and Rouch's segment is arguably the best of the set. It's a pointed critique of the aspirational tendencies of the neighborhood, distilled through a portrait of a young couple (played by Schroeder and Nadine Ballot) whose conflicts are both magnified and dwarfed by the construction happening outside their apartment window. When Ballot takes to the streets still upset by their quarreling, she is approached by a stranger (played by Gilles Quéant) who seems to offer a solution to her troubles that she's both attacted by and resistant to. To say much more might spoil the surprises of the film, so I'll just encourage readers to see it.

WHERE/WHEN: 3:00 PM today only at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.

WHY: The PFA begins a 12-film retrospective of Rouch's work this afternoon with this short piece, which will precede the filmmaker's breakthrough Moi, Un Noir to set the tone for a series pairing full-length films and shorts that lasts until April 16th when his influential collaboration with Edgar Morin, Chronicle of a Summer screens along with Jackie Raynal's brief portrait of the filmmaker shot just before his death in 2004.

As if to get it out of the way, or to show that his aptitude for documentary did not indicate a lack thereof in the narrative department, or perhaps to argue that the line between fiction and non-fiction modes is more illusory than we think, the PFA is launching the series tributing the documentarian with this fictional piece. I haven't seen enough of Rouch's other work to weigh in on this curatorial decision yet, but I hope to be able to catch as many as I can, and perhaps share my thoughts on that subject later.

HOW: Gare Du Nord screens on 35mm, while Moi, Un Noir is a digital presentation.

No comments:

Post a Comment