Sunday, 2 November 2008

Nobody is entirely evil: it's that circumstances that make them evil, or they don't know they are doing evil.

No 237 - Delicatessen

Director - Marc Carot & Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Bonjour... Today is my first blog on a French film by French people. So I feel I'm connecting with the other half of my heritage. The French half. I have been joined by Mr Richard Hughes esq who will be inputting masses of pretentious balls into the proceedings.

This film is a comic post apocalyptic exploration of the human condition, and shows a surprising level of hope in a scenario that is tinged with tragedy and desperation. For, unlike so many dystopian visions, this explores the idea of people working together, and even enjoying themselves, as they go about their post apocalyptic day to day business. Which seems to mostly involve making those weird little boxes that sound like cows when you turn them upside down. This could be that there is an unexplained and somewhat unusual high demand for these objects, it could be just that 2 brothers are looking for a distraction from their difficult existence, or - as Richard suggested to me - it could be a substitute for the meat that they so desperately crave.

The film itself seems to be set in a parallel world where either the second world or the cold war ended in nuclear annihilation. The film has a clear 1950s image which mixes with an industrial feel to create imagery which is very similar to that used by Bioshock recently. The nostalgic otherworldliness is only intensified by the tone of the film. Dirty lights indoors and the thick brown smog which permeates through everything seem to tint the whole film into sepia. this is only broken by the occasional splash of colour, be it the vampish red of Mademoiselle Plusse's dress or the bright teal that appears both within the television set's picture and occasionally upon Julie, both her eyes and accessories shine through the uniform, almost oppressing filter.

It is interesting to note that whilst Mlle Plusse's dress is certainly vibrant, it fits into the brown world, perhaps showing that whilst she is a large and voluptuous character she is still very much a part of the environment that surrounds her. It is the teal which truly shines and differentiates itself from the surroundings. The television and Julie both offer Louison a sense of joy and escapism from a existence somewhat tainted by the ongoing threat of cannibalism....

For whilst it is Louison's story, the most interesting character is the Butcher. He rules the microcosm of the boarding house, where, with the exception of an occasional postman, everyone stays very firmly rooted either within it, either on top or below. He is the sole figure of power and authority and he seems to be a study of greed; a representation of pure desire - and the perils of falling prey to it completely. The parallels between his desperate desire for Mlle Plusse's flesh and for Louison's are palpable - and it is perhaps important to note that neither one are things that he needs. The question of the Butcher being pure evil is raised more than once - notably in a quote (the titular subject of this very review) which he overhears and then repeats, almost as a defence to himself. As a reflection of the risks of lust (of any kind) this sense of evil works well - but as irredeemable as he seems, he does appear to have one positive aspect: his daughter Julie. The irony of his desire to protect and nurture her (in respect of his own scant regard for innocence and chastity) is made quickly clear - and her development throughout the film is all the more intriguing for it, especially as she changes her more innocent outlook for a red dress and lipstick (only to have them removed by Lousion) by the chaotic climax; perhaps in a response to his increasingly claustrophobic protection. [ponce intervention over]

The final thing that I want to talk about is rhythm. As this is a very rhythmic film, using music or just beats to punctuate a lot of the scenes, from large 'action' sequences to more mundane montages of odd jobs. This creates a whimsical nature which echoes throughout the film and begins to draw the similarities to this and Amelie, one of Jeunet's later projects which is very different thematically but shows a lot of stylistic similarities. There are in fact large stylistic similarities with the sex scene montage within delicatessen and the orgasm montage within Amelie. It must be a subject that Jeunet is interested in....

And that brings us to the end of the blog I think. It was slightly more thoughtful and serious than usual, but I blame the Hughes for this... I am sure that next time will be a return to girls, clothes and who is cool. See you then

Tim xxx

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