Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)


I went to see this film by the Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman last night at LACMA.
It was one of the most painful, masochistic experiences in the theater I've ever had. Not since watching Sean Penn's horrible Crossing Guard (1994), have I squirmed that much. Not that this film was bad. It was in fact quite good, but having to sit through the duration of each statically-shot scene was where the pain lied. Watching someone make coffee for 10 minutes, only to dislike the batch and throw it away can't leave you with any other feeling. However, I now know where Michael Haneke, perhaps my favorite living filmmaker, got some of his ideas.

On Akerman's Wikipedia page:

"Jeanne Dielman's static framing, extended duration takes and lack of reversal shots force the viewer to objectively experience its protagonist and her social role's oppression. Through exposure to "images between the images" Akerman forges new content that, resultantly, requires new form. Though the filmmaker's static frame and extended duration shots stem from structural cinema, their unique application to women's domestic work position Jeanne Dielman outside dominant patriarchal film languages and into one specifically "feminist." The picture inverts normal filmic expectations by removing drama from emotional intensity and attaching it to extended duration takes - takes, that is, connotative of boredom. Jeanne Dielman's temporal dilation equalizes its exposition and drama to transform "knowledge of an object" - Jeanne's oppression - into a "vision" of it."

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