Sunday, June 24, 2012

Viva la baleine / [Long Live the Whale] [2012 restoration]

FR 1972. D: Mario Ruspoli, Chris Marker. ED: Chris Marker. S: Chris Marker. M: Lalan. Voices: Casamayor, Valerie Mayoux. PC: Argos Films. HD Cam. 17’. Versione francese / French version. From: Argos Films e Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna. Sunday 24 July 2012, Cinema Lumière - Sala Mastroianni (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato). Earphone translation in Italian / English. Presented by Florence Dauman.

A collage and compilation film made on 16 mm stock and originally distributed as a 35 mm blow-up.

Restored in 2012 by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Argos Film. The restoration, carried out at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, was based on the best available elements. The digital restoration of the image was made on the 2K digitization of the 35 mm blow up, printed when the films were released. The restoration of the soundtrack was based on the original optical negative.

Florence Dauman: “With this simple title, the filmmakers sing the praises of the whale and warn against its imminent extinction if wide scale slaughter of the animal continues. This charming symbol provides a means for reading the fate of our planet, which the whale resembles for its density, roundness, and the threats surrounding it. The sustainability of an old form of whale hunting justified by the needs of a subsistence economy (and – though a moral point of view, but morality is at times the shadow cast by necessity – giving the animal itself a chance) was followed by industrial whale hunting with harpoon cannons, “the atomic bomb for whales”, and huge Japanese and Soviet ship-factories. This resulted in, for example, the mass slaughter of the blue whale."

"Chris Marker’s commentary, tinged with irony and lyricism, warns us against the wild expansionism of our industrial society and denounces the threat created by a whale hunting industry that has lost its economic justifications and the purpose of which is merely to perpetuate itself. Enemies since time immemorial, at a certain point man and whale become united, and killing one endangers the other: “Each whale that dies communicates, like a prophecy, an image of our own death” (Chris Marker).” Florence Dauman

AA: A wonderful collage on the subject of whaling. Soon after the making of Les Hommes de la baleine, in 1957, international measures were taken to save whales, including a ten year ban on whaling, concerning especially the use of missile harpoons, "the nuclear weapon of whaling". The resolution was ignored by certain big countries such as Japan and Russia. Another Ruspoli film in the profound Melvillean sense of discovering in whaling "an image of our own death" (Chris Marker). The old whaling images are fascinating.

A valuable work relevant both for Ruspoli and Marker. Restored by the best experts, the sources of this movie seem to have been in bad shape.

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