Saturday, 16 February 2008

"Ah" - Bastien Dubois, Joris Bacquet & Simon Moreau

Ah is not a long name though today's seven minute movie is epic in some ways. The second French movie in two days from the same institution, Supinfocom Valenciennes, is a marker for quality. This time the talented trio are Bastien Dubois, Joris Bacquet & Simon Moreau. A huge number of people have viewed the YouTube version. Gazing into her hot alphabet soup, a young girl is plunged into a surreal landscape of alphabet letters that rain down on her or tower like rocks in the Grand Canyon. At first the letters are a source of wonder, one bobbing in front of the child is a mixture of balloon and sponge. Following the letter "A" takes the girl through a field of rather ominous rubbery antennae thence to letters on tentacles. The visual impact of the scenery uses the linked software, 3ds Max and Combustion, to its impressive limits. At one point the girl stands on a promontory over a huge desert-like valley as seemingly endless letters swarm in the sky, at another she is on the seabed amidst twisted roots and weed as she seeks to save a boy trapped in quicksand. This is the most disturbing scene in a quite dazzling movie as speech consists of a series of letters bursting from the mouths of the pair as the extreme danger of the situation mounts. Reflecting both nightmare and dream, wonder and terror, the movie is fascinating throughout. As to precise meaning I'm not entirely sure. Letters are to do with communication and there are difficulties of wrestling with words in the film. However, all the ingredients of a bad dream are there - being chased or trapped, wandering lost, falling, flying, bewilderment, you choose it, it's there - and this sense of nightmare is what the movie seeks (and achieves.) It genuinely is spectacular too as the child flees tsunami and various manifestations in a landscape seemingly intent on her destruction. Strangely enough it is the alphabet pasta shapes that are the source of her possible survival. The music by Mathieu Moreau and Alexis Urbanski suits the action well, with a melodic, dreamy quality that can be trance inducing or unsettling as required. The only disappointment is that visitors to the impressive Website are then redirected to YouTube for the film itself.

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