pourquoi? parce que


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HumaniteToo much can be made of Bruno Dumont as philosopher, but along with film-maker, it seems to be the most suitable label. If he is anything, he is not a cinephile, and so the man claims himself. And it therefore seems the moderate (verging upon medicinal) pace of L’Humanité is more likely down to his own genuflections to ontology than any purported influence from Tarkovsky, et cetera. The combination of astounding realist performances from non-actors, commensurate to the oddity of Dumont’s characters, written half-formed and surreal, has the somnambulistic effect of bringing us closer to their reflection on horror and its relation to care (and being in relation to one another), than to their factual predicament. The plot is sparse and quite realist, while the technique is formalist and quite fine. L’Humanité is probably a film better enjoyed in the cinema for this reason. Pharaon’s bicycle ride is breathtaking. The film demands a meditative stance from the viewer, and it needs to wash over you, rather than be interrogated hermeneutically. It demands patience and an openness to experience. It probably helps to have, or to have known someone who has, witnessed death, particularly of such graphic horror, in order to understand how effectively the film does capture humanity. Dumont does not make films to entertain, but to provoke. This is a suitable goal, because I don’t think he has it in him to entertain. The man spent ten years filming charts and graphs, CEO speeches, production lines, factory machines. He has a great formal skill, and has exercised his ontological muscles enough to find the emotion in the experience of seeing a mechanical operation. Good art? Yes: a provocative, if slightly puzzling experience. Not fun though.


L’Humanité, Dir. & Writ. Bruno Dumont, 3B Productions, France, 1999; available on DVD


Written by James P. Campbell

19/03/2009 at 12:10

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