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Friday, 12 March 2010

Patrick Bouchard "Subservience" (2007)



Subservience absorbed me for all of its 8 minutes. If I were to note all the action it would scarcely seem sufficient yet such is the intensity, without any dialogue, that one’s fascination in the drama is sustained throughout. Indeed, there is much that is theatrical about it, as much as there are echoes of the great Czech puppeteers. Patrick Bouchard's film is a study in pomposity, the aloof old man walking across a post-apocalyptic desert, the sky an angry glower, whilst a servant scurries around him continually rolling out two red carpets so as his master need not defile his feet. An equally sneering lady condescends to accompany the man, her own servant at pains to keep pace and carpet to foot. When a tiniest sliver of material is dropped, the lady does not deign to stoop and her servant has to dip into quicksand. Patrick’s camera lingers on the puppets' faces, the lack of humanity of the master and mistress exactly suiting the immobility of quite wonderfully sculptured puppets. Yet those puppets are capable of articulating a great depth of emotion as the bourgeoisie/marionettes grapple with an impossible task. Whilst the pace is necessarily pedestrian, the tension is electric. Come the revolution, eh. The NFB fosters many talents.

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