Friday, June 17, 2016

El artista y la modelo / The Artist and the Model

Aida Folch and Jean Rochefort in El artista y la modelo. Please click to enlarge the image.

L'Artiste et son modèle
ES/FR 2012.
Ohjaus/Director: Fernando Trueba
Käsikirjoitus/Screenplay: Fernando Trueba, Jean-Claude Carrière
Kuvaus/Cinematography: Daniel Vilar
Leikkaus/Editing: Marta Velasco
Lavastus/Set Design: Pilar Revuelta
Puvustus/Costumes: Lala Huete
Ääni/Sound: Pierre Gamet, Eduardo G. Castro, Bernard Chaumeil
Musiikki/Music: Duke Ellington, Gustav Mahler
Näyttelijät/Cast: Jean Rochefort, Aida Folch, Claudia Cardinale, Chus Lampreave, Götz Otto, Christian Sinniger, Martin Gamet
Tuotanto/Production: Fernando Trueba Producciones Cinematográficas, Bonne Pioche Productions
Tuottaja/Producer: Cristina Huete
Esityskopio/Print Source: 6sales
Esitysformaatti/Format: 35 mm.
Kieli/Language: espanja/Spanish, ranska/French
Tekstitys/Subtitles: englanti/English
105 min
    Shot in digital, camera: Arri Alexa, source format: ProRes 4:4:4 (1080p/2f), master format DI 2K.
    Black and white in scope.
    Mostly in French with some Spanish.
    Inspiré par la vie de l'artiste Aristide Maillol.
    Tourné dans Perpignan et Céret, les Pyrénées-Orientales. Also in Girona (Catalonia).
    The artist's hands: Michel Brigand.
    Rembrandt: Niño que aprende a andar (1656). Londres, Museo Británico. Tinta marrón.
    The discussion on Rembrandt's drawing inspired by David Hockney.
    Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF), Sodankylä.
    In the presence of Fernando Trueba introduced by Kaisu Isto.
    Cinema Lapinsuu, 17 June 2016

Otto Kylmälä (MSFF catalog): "It’s the year 1943 in German occupied France. The Second World War has seized the creativity of an aging artist, Marc (Jean Rochefort). One day his wife Léa (Claudia Cardinale) meets a Spaniard Mercè (Aida Folch) who has escaped from a war camp, Léa brings Mercè home with her. Encouraged by Léa, Mercè agreeds to pose for Marc, who is still struggling to rejuvenate his artistic vitality. The screenwriters of the film Trueba ja Jean-Claude Carrière (Belle de Jour, The Unbearable Lightness of Being) have written a sensitive and mature ode to beauty."

"As in many of Trueba’s films the barbaric madness that is savaging the outer world doesn’t deserve the attention of his characters nor will it get any time on the screen. True poets have the ability and skill to stop and admire the beauty in the world and to concentrate on the meaningful things even in the midst of states of emergency. Once again familiar from his other films eroticism is present in this film as well but this time the comedic touch is in minimum."

"Gorgeous monochrome shooting and unrushed rhythm prove Trueba’s masterfulness to refine and approach his personal themes also from a serious perspective. The film is dedicated to Trueba’s sculptor brother, Máximo that inevitably brings a deep personal angle to the topic. Trueba won the Best Director Award for this film at the San Sebastián Film Festival."

AA: A labour of love from Fernando Trueba, a film that he had been hatching all his life. The story of an old artist, Marc, who has been suffering from a creative block for a long time. Along comes Mercè, a young model who inspires him. Mercè is amazed that the portraits do not resemble her. "Like Cézanne, I just consult nature" replies Marc; he does not look for likeness. He wants to have his final say, find something that he has always been looking for. For Marc, God created woman. He did create Eve first, and together with her he had Adam. Adam then was surprised by God together with his mother Eve. That was the original sin. That was when they were banished from paradise.

Marc and Mercè are at first very formal and distant with each other. Gradually they learn to know each other better. A key discussion takes place around Rembrandt's drawing of a child learning to walk (see below). The drawing seems humble and hasty at first sight but on closer inspection it starts to reveal its secrets.

Mercè, it turns out, is a resistance fighter. We are on the Pyrenees next to the Spanish border. France is occupied by Nazis. Mercè helps Jews and other harassed people escape at night through secret mountain passages. She even hides a wounded resistance fighter in the attic of the artist's mountain study.

"Artists and doctors have the right to see a woman naked". Little boys of the neighbourhood want share the view, too. Marc draws and paints Mercè at his study, by a pond, and on the grass in the woods. He molds her in clay and plaster, proceeding to have the work finished in marble. The artist's inspiration is conveyed via delicious superimposed montages of the natural beauty of Mercè. There is an innocence and a purity in the extended nude passages of this movie.

The casting is perfect with Jean Rochefort and Aida Folch in the leading roles. There is an affinity with Limelight in the story of the old dying artist and the young woman who carries the promise of new life. Claudia Cardinale reinvents herself beautifully as the vibrant old wife Léa acting her age. Léa, too, had started as a model. She teaches Mercè that quickly one gets used to nudity in front of artists.

The film has been shot digitally. It is about sculpture, and there is no problem in conveying sculpture in digital. But even the live model, Mercè, looks sculptural in digital. The limitations of digital become evident in the detail of nature. (The limitations of digital are no longer insurmountable as one can see in films such as Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner or Virpi Suutari's Elegance).

Rembrandt: A Child Being Taught to Walk. 1656 © The Trustees of the British Museum. Pen and brown ink on brownish-cream paper.

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