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When an eleven-year-old girl is found raped and murdered in Flanders, the man placed in charge of the case is police lieutenant Pharaon de Winter (Emmanuel Schotté) - an introvert who lives with his mother and pines for his neighbour, Domino (Séverin Caneele). She is aware of his attraction, and tries to involve him in outings with her bus driver boyfriend Joseph (Philippe Tullier), who regards de Winter as an unnecessary bore. De Winter becomes traumatised by the case, increasingly turning to Domino to comfort, but his investigation ultimately leads to a startling revelation.
French writer-director Bruno Dumont brought his second feature L'Humanite ("a film about sex and death", as Dumont deftly sketched it) to the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, in the teeth of great expectation: his debut La Vie de Jesus had been widely adored. But many critics were bored and/or repulsed by L'Humanite. Their scorn turned to fury when David Cronenberg's jury honoured L'Humanite with the Grand Prix, and both male and female acting prizes. These distinctions may have bemused Dumont's non-professional leads, Emmanuel Schotte and Severine Caneele. But for Dumont's admirers, the prizes were an elegant tribute to a formidable new talent in world cinema.
L'Humanite concerns Pharaon de Winter, a simple man in his 30s, who lives with his mother in the provincial town of Bailleul. He seems to be a police detective, and he is assigned to investigate the appalling rape and murder of a little girl. But Pharaon would rather idle away the hours with his neighbour Domino, a mild young woman with a truculent boyfriend, Joseph. Nevertheless, that unsolved crime will not go away; and as Pharaon conducts his seemingly hopeless investigation, he is drawn inexorably to confront what he abhors--in our common humanity, and within himself.
It was the great French director Robert Bresson who suggested that "the supernatural in film is only the real rendered more precise. Real things seen close up". Dumont once wrote Bresson a luminous fan letter ("Je vous aime beaucoup"), and he is devoted to a similar kind of extraordinary realism. Like Bresson, Dumont has a power to refresh our way of seeing: he wants to show us the world in exactly the way that he loves it. L'Humanite challenges the viewer to live with its studied pace and unabashed peculiarity. You might love it or loathe it. But it is a brave, beautiful film. --Richard Kelly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dumont makes his bleak vision obvious from the start, with the horrendous discovery of a murdered and mutilated child left naked and bleeding in an autumnal field. The image is a shocking and brutal one; Dumont giving us a punch to the stomach almost from the first frame with lingering close-ups over the wounds and filleted body parts. It’s an image that both establishes and surmises the film as a thematic whole... the loss of innocence being central both with the murdered child and with the character of Pharaon. It is the back-story and the fragile demeanour of Pharaon, and to an extent the evocative performance of non-professional actor Emmanuel Schotte, which anchors the film, giving the audience an emotional spectator. He is our representation. After the aforementioned grizzly discovery there are no macho heroics...Read more ›
Pharaon needs to be touched and needs affection and she is sensitive to this.He often tags along with her and Joseph when they go out to the coast or to a restaurant,often putting up with all kinds of insults from Joseph, lording it over him.Joseph breaks the law,Pharaon implodes with self-loathing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I cannot believe that this film is actually selling for money. I would expect to find this work on the dusty floor of a French garage sale marked 1 euro o.n. Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2013 by Plump Sausages
There are several problems with this film as far as I am concerned. The first is its grinding slowness. We see a man walking across a field, and he walks and walks. Read morePublished on 23 Dec. 2007 by Dr. R. G. Bullock
A risibly unlikely film, centred on an autistic-seeming policeman in an unremittingly ugly Pays de Calais, L'Humanite will stretch your credulity and patience. Read morePublished on 16 Aug. 2007 by P. R. Gregory