Mr Honeywell was pondering recently how some films wound up on the 1001 Movies list, finding this a particularly baffling choice, and noting that the chief reason given in the book seemed to be that it was an influence on Godard while the latter was making Contempt. I suspect there was probably more to it than that, as director Jean-Daniel Pollet seems to have had some renown in his day, though this renown equally seems to have been limited and not terribly enduring… As for the film itself, I’ll let the author of this page sum it up:
Barbed-wire on a wind-blown clifftop… ancient ruins in the desert… a mechanical arm removes molten metal from a furnace… flies buzz around the overgrown garden of an abandoned house… a girl in a coma is wheeled along a hospital corridor… a bull is ritually slaughtered by matadors… a young bride celebrates her wedding beside the sea… an old fisherman rows toward an island… a narrator questions the meaning of what he sees.
Well, the narrator does something, but from where I was sitting it appeared to be mostly talking shit. From what I read at the above link, I get the feeling Pollet himself didn’t really know what he was doing; apparently the film was the result of a road trip he took with Volker Schlöndorff, with Pollet then taking six months to edit the footage they shot and then offering it to Philippe Sollers to do a commentary for it. The end result adds up to 44 minutes of not much… I said the other day how I mistrust the word “surrealism” when it’s invoked in certain contexts, and I similarly mistrust the word “poetic” in cases like this where it seems to be code for meaningless drivel. I actually got quite angry watching this film, and though I’m willing to concede others more on the film’s wavelength may well have found some deeper meaning in it, I didn’t feel the effort of looking for it myself would be rewarded. Actually I may have found it interesting as a photo book with text or something, but as a film… no.