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Friday, 11 May 2012

Jean-Francois Laguionie "La traversée de l'Atlantique à la rame" (1978)

A young couple on their honeymoon are paid by a newspaper to row across the Atlantic. They sail from New York, the crowds cheering them on their way. They drink champagne, play their musical instruments and initially enjoy untroubled waters. Their diaries trace the years. The journey takes a lifetime, during which they witness dramatic events and have their matrimonial differences. I have wanted to write about Jean-Francois Laguionie's classic short for years, thwarted by a lack of a translated version of the French original. La traversée de l'Atlantique à la rame  (Rowing Across the Atlantic) may be viewed in one single chunk if your French is up to it; failing that in two parts, 1 and 2 should you require a translation. The initial scenes of enormous beauty develop to cold brutality as the pair wage war on each other and there is a memorable scene where they pass by the stricken Titanic, not only for the tragic spectacle but their reaction to it. Seascapes change from ice to the tropics, there are strange interludes, the pair age before our eyes, surreal moments of metamorphosis. There is also a blissful closing sequence that is the equal of any animated film I have seen. Pierre Alrand's music is majestic and the film features the voices of Charlotte Maury-Sentier and Jean-Pierre Sentieras as the couple. This is a major film in any language, an extended metaphor that works. It is always in the top hundred or so movies of all time. Jean-Francois' biography may be obtained from an earlier post I made in 2008 of his La Demoiselle et le violoncelliste.

2 comments:

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