La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV (1966)

29 01 2009

I knew going in that this was going to be on the more dull and academic side of things, but it still took me quite a long time to adjust to one of the most extreme forms of deliberately slow pacing I’ve seen in any film. This is slow in a way completely different from “minimalism” i.e the work of Bresson and Antonioni’s followers. The pace is not intentionally slow, but instead a result of Rossellini’s dedication to his idea of television as a form of education. As uninteresting as it sounds, this is indeed a “educational” film, but I can’t help but find it interesting just because Rossellini is trying to accomplish something that I haven’t seen attempted before.

Perhaps my words can’t express how bizarrely “austere” this work is, which is a little odd having only seen Benedek Fliegauf’s (wonderful) static shot parade, Tejut only a couple of days ago. But as I tried to mention in the first paragraph, Rossellini’s version of minimalism is one to which I am not accustomed. His camera movements vaguely resemble Rivette’s here, but needless to say, this is absolutely not a Rivette film. It’s the antithesis of playful and charming, it’s self-consciously intellectual and inaccessible. After awhile though, I came fascinated by Rossellini’s very simplistic world. It probably helps that the rather ugly looking color scheme seems to grow on one’s sensibilities. In other words, it just takes awhile to get use to Rossellini’s idiosyncratic approach.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this film has very little in common, at least stylistically speaking, with Journey to Italy and Flowers of St. Francis, which is a little disappointing for me. On the other hand, I can see this period in Rossellini’s career gradually becoming a great point of interest. If this film is any indication, then I’m sure I’ll find myself more than a little uncomfortable watching his other television works, but in the long run, they could all be quite enjoyable. I suppose this is ironic, though, since Rosselini himself didn’t want these films to be seen as entertaining, but I still feel like there is room, at least in this film, to be entertained.

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