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Hors Satan [DVD]
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Avant-garde drama directed by Bruno Dumont. A nameless outsider living on the fringes of society (David Dewaele) develops a close bond with a nameless young woman (Alexandra Lemâtre). He acts as a guardian to the girl as the film progresses, killing the people she claims are tormenting her and making her life unbearable. Set along the northwestern French coast, the film touches upon aspects of good and evil, spirituality and isolation.
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Immersed immediately in the, now familiar (?) world of Dumont’s northern France landscape the first five minutes of 'Hors Satan' draws us into milieu of post industrial peasant life, taciturn, at once alienated and yet connected to the rural world, a world not of ordered pasture and hedgerow but rather of rusted corrugated iron sheets and furrowed brows. The leaden skies weigh heavily on the land stretched across the screen as figures shift both into the depth of the frame and across its geometrical surface. There is a wonderful moment 50 minutes into the film when the young woman walks toward the vanishing point of the screen, her vertical figure passing through the three horizontals of sand, sea and sky. Dumont is as deft at utilizing this landscape form as Godard is albeit to different effect.
In this, his sixth feature, Dumont allows us to observe, his usual narrative position, the story of an ‘outsider’ befriended by an other, a couple estranged, made strange by the circumstances of intimated child abuse and silent compromise. The young woman (Alexandre Lamaire), with trumpet player lips and failed goth hair looks through weak eyes at a world awry. The man (David Dewaele) seemingly unperturbed by his lot save for his, literally, falling to his knees in a kind of pantheistic prayer when confronted with the sight of the world, interacts with this place by a kind of piercing will. The film tells a story of sorts, a story of redemption, a story of resurrection but it also does so much more. Here we have a silent movie made up of sound, an action movie entirely passive, an intimate movie that keeps its distance. Dumont has something to offer the film going crowd, spectacle, spectacle as contemplation. For in this cinema we see not only what the characters see we see something more, something we don’t see.
Man walks about in countryside. Man and woman walk about in countryside. Bit of violence. Man walks about in countryside. Man and woman walk about in countryside. Bit of sex. Man and woman walk about in countryside. Bit of weirdness.
And that makes it sound a lot more interesting than it actually is. Read the four and five star reviews to see the level of pretentiousness needed to enjoy this film. And I have to say, I wouldn't praise the visuals of this dull film, the countryside just looks ... dull. They have simply pointed a camera at some sand dunes whilst the actors walk past. If I really struggle to find something positive about this dull film I would say sometimes you can hear birdsong, and eventually it ends.
Don't watch this, go for a walk instead.
To a hitch-hiker he brings sexual bliss,so she is frothing at the mouth.For the mother whose daughter is possessed he drives out the demons by raping the possessed young girl.He moves around his territory like a hunter-gatherer, but the territory is spiritual and he seems to commune with nature,kneeling,taking in the land and sky.He canknock at any door and get a bite to eat,as the people who live around here trust him.His young companion gets raped and dies and he mysteriously takes her body out into the landscape and lays it in a certain way and leaves it.The strange ritual is a form of resurrection.He is a holy fool or shaman,a phallocentric worshipper of nature.
What do we make of Dumont's purpose here? He has taken the character who was marginal in his last film,Hadewijch, but was pivotal as the natural man in saving the central character from committing suicide, and he's made him the central character in this film,which has no music; you hear only the sounds of nature,breathing,walking,the wind, leaves,water and birds.The characters have no names.This is a new world of primitive,mythological fantasy.The objective lens pans the countryside,dunes,trees, marshes,hills,streams,capturing sunrise,magic-hour,the long shots are slow,panoramic, the dialogue minimal,impregnating us with the image like a Poussin or Constable painting.
The character can be seen as both evil and good,being one and the same thing.The characters are half-way between symbol and reality.Dumont is the atheist moving towards Bressonian subject matter(The Devil,Probably),bringing in religious themes. In this society we seem free of the ills of capitalism and modern technology,in marginal space,a magical zone,outside the normal rules that would apply in urban life in cities and towns.There is a serial killer rapist in the vicinity,who has a dog.When the police capture him,the natural wanderer takes his dog and walks on to his next location.This ends a trilogy of films made on spiritual themes.Absolutely astonishing.
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