La vie nouvelle
(Philippe Grandrieux, 2002, 102 minutes, France, in English and French, Color, Digital)
-- Response by Ben Crais (Literature); discussion to follow!
-- Dinner precedes the film -- please RSVP to email@example.com.
The impetus for La vie nouvelle (2002), the 2nd feature-length film by avant-garde director Philippe Grandrieux, arose from Grandrieux’s visit to Sarajevo at the turn of the 21st century. The “new life” of the film’s title is first of all the wreckage of the city and the violence and exploitation that seems to mark every relationship within it. Beginning with a slave auction and following (loosely) the attempts of an American soldier to purchase a woman from a malevolent gangster, La vie nouvelle invokes what is most intolerable in this world: not only this violence, but our seeming inability to create a different world.
Grandrieux explores the extremes of film form: in his lighting and compositions and impulsive camera movements; in the bold mix of speech, noise and techno/ambient music (by the celebrated experimental group Etant Donnés); and in the frame-by-frame onslaught of sensations. Could there be, then, a second sense to the film’s title, despite—figuratively and narratively—the film’s apparent pessimism? Can cinema depict not only what is, but also the very forces that constitute the possibility for a new life?
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sponsors: The Program in Literature, the Institute for Critical Theory, the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image (AMI), and the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies.