|An important scene about love|
First a historical note. The film is set during the beginnings of one of the biggest protests ever. Over 11 million french people were on protest at one point, almost one quarter of the country. These riots involved peaceful demonstrations but quite quickly evolved into direct violence, and almost a sort of anarchy. It ended the contemporary government's reign, so it was effective in that sense, and also prefixed a lot of social changes that were so prevalent during the 60's. The most important for this film was the sexual revolution, as an era of freedom and expression began, and created the culture that is so relevant today.
The film begins with a fairly catchy tune, evocative of much of the soundtrack. The soundtrack is actually concurrent with the era, so it is all 1968 or before, which creates a very unique feel to the film, which is further evoked by the cars and technology of the era. The opening credits are set to a background image of the Eiffel Tower, which is inherently a symbol of change. We're then introduced to our protagonist and narrator, who is fairly likable even if I don't remember his name. He walks to a cinema built in a metaphorical palace, which looks like a truly magical place, fairy-tale like, which is what the film tries to evoke through much of the second and third acts.
|Not my style, but still damn pretty|
When I say that I mean it is a tribute to an era of film-making, and music, and philosophy. It knows the time better than many pieces from the same time. In a way it can be compared to Tarantino's films, in that he knows the period he is referencing, and with his encyclopedic knowledge of films it shows. The difference here is Tarantino's references are implicit, and the Dreamers are explicit. The Dreamers shows the films it is referencing, names them, shows how the characters know them, and though more appreciation is gained for having watched the films a casual viewer, not that there really are any with this film, still can understand them. Tarantino's are more take it or leave it, if you get it good, if you don't well it's brief and unimportant. Different style of film-making, neither implicitly better or worse.
When I say it's a tribute to the philosophy of the time I mean it's about the revolutionaries that became so popular in the 60's, due in part to the Vietnam war and disillusionment and also because of the media which influenced people so. Films like Psycho that sought to break the social norms, and acknowledge the madness that lies outside, and others like To Kill a Mockingbird showing the racial injustices prevalent at the time and how god damn ubiquitous they were. These films revolted in small ways, and the riots in Paris at the time were simply a microcosm of what was happening around the world. The film shows this perfectly through its explicit imagery, through its dream-like state and the refusal to acknowledge the outside world, the issues of appearance versus reality and all that jazz.
|No penises here|
The director, Betolucci, clearly loves the subject matter, and it is evident in all the choices made about the film. The philosophy in the film, evidenced by several different characters in different ways seems like it was someone's personal philosophy, about how every element of the universe works together to form a wholly together whole. A nice optimistic idea in a sense. Interestingly the film ends on quite a sorrow note, or even no note at all given how open the ending is. The brother and sister go off together, ignoring the protagonist's cry to break apart and to live their own lives. The film actually ends on a small fire burning, with police vans in the back after all the riot cops have run forward to intercept the virtual army of protestors.
On the whole I'm not sure if it is a comedy or a tragedy, using the classical terms. The ending is not wholly ambiguous, but leaves enough up to question, about the fates of the main characters as well as that of Paris as a whole. It is a lot like reality in that way, but only really the ending and beginning are. The rest of the film is so unreal, that it is less realistic than the likes of Star Wars, or for something more grounded in reality Donnie Darko. Films which thrive on their fictitious nature are more real than a film rooted so firmly in reality in terms of setting, but is so far apart in terms of characters and style. As I said, I don't know what to think, I'd say give it a watch if you're fine with explicit sex scenes, but be ready for something very unique, an entity unto itself.
I'm actually not sure if I'm done with this one, I feel like there is more to say on that theme of appearance versus reality, so stay tuned for a second part, maybe.
|To add some class|