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Monday, October 3, 2022

Revisiting Le Havre’s portrait of a 10-year migrant crisis

a Much has changed regarding the refugee and migrant crisis in the 10 years since Le Havre’s release to Britain. The Calais forest was demolished in 2016. The UK left the European Union in 2020. But the dangerous journey of refugees and migrants across Europe and across the Channel has certainly not stopped – it is estimated that 10,000. more than Already crossed this year.

In Le Havre, director Aki Kaurismaki tells the story of Idrisa (Blondine Miguel), who is smuggled with her family in a shipping container from Gabon to the French port city of Le Havre, with the ultimate goal of reaching London. The town’s residents are rounded up by Marcel Marx (André Wilmes), a childishly-determined pre-bohemian shoe-shiny, for doing everything in their power to hide Idrisa from the authorities.

A film that has a real-life humanitarian crisis at its core, audiences may be expecting an immaculate depiction of desperation or may find their heart pounding forcefully because the reason is urgent. Le Havre takes a different approach.

The film’s characters’ emotions are strangely muted and speak with a paused air; When Marx announced “I am at home”, his wife, Arletti (Kati Outinen), actually replied, “I have seen.” Even in moments of tragedy, Kaurismaki bypasses dramatic extremes for a celebration of a quiet beauty in the details. In one of cinema’s most leisurely fall scenes, Arletti slowly stops chopping onions in the kitchen, having time to gently put his knife to one side, and gently lays his head on the chopping board. Is. His head does not drop so much as it falls, establishing an uncomfortably quiet life with half-cut onions.

Elsewhere, closer to the tense hustle and bustle of Le Havre, this quietly whimsical creation appears almost to enter the silent film world, with characters pausing with their hands mid-grip, mid-fight, as if of an intertitled Waiting pop up. Throughout, the slow motion allows each shot to pause for a moment before ticking off the next. The stakes of real-world violence are reduced to parody or absurdity – the viewer is forced to accept that everything in this reality seems at once removed, that this is a world that needs to be treated with caution. is made from.

Kaurismaki’s signature brand of ironic alienation and lingering absurdity may not be fitting for the emotional climax of a dire emergency such as the European migrant crisis. As viewers, does it become easier or more difficult for us to connect to her characters in the way they show impressive empathy for each other, if their own feelings appear to be deliberately restrained? How is our sympathy for their plight affected if we are constantly made aware that we are only watching a movie, that we are removed in a genre?

Kaurismaki, who announced at the film’s premiere in Cannes in 2011 that he was “not a documentary or political director”, describes Le Havre as a “fairy-tale”. Actually, the story book artificiality of the film goes to its grain. The stage realism of Bruce Gilden’s portrait features the actors’ faces lit up, all their wrinkles and asymmetries drawn in relief and yet still faintly radiant. The neatly decorated home sets today resemble the painted interiors of the Dutch Golden Age: live-in yet oddly empty. The effect is not only surreal but also oddly old-fashioned.

In fact, one of the most suggestive aspects of Le Havre’s distinctively distant treatment of subject matter is the film’s odd temporal setting. As a product of Kaurismaki’s obsessive distaste for filming modern things, the modern reality of the European migrant crisis, of camps in Calais and Sangte, plays as a slightly distorted record in the film’s irreverent retro universe of vintage cars and rotary phones. Is. , was all shot by Kaurismki’s general director of photography, Timo Salminen, on a camera used by Ingmar Bergmann.

This ethereal temporary cross-stitch into the fabric of Le Havre’s present means that the reality of the European migrant crisis quickly becomes out of place. The all-too-familiar news-story version we all know becomes familiar with the chaos of it. Indeed, the film’s precarious setting, between now and then, between reality and story, allows the question of how to best respond to the migrant crisis presented in the abstract. Untouched by the typical political considerations of policies stamped today and repealed yesterday, it becomes a matter of purely human compassion. Like many of its characters, the film also feels as if it has come from somewhere else.

Perhaps more so than any of his films before, Kaurismaki’s deliberately restrained and succinct style delivery and observation keep it from becoming impersonal. The all-important sequence of locked-off shots revealing the faces of the smugglers with Idrissa in the container may leave the uncomfortable still and artificial stillness of school photos, but they remain personal and poignant. In carefully giving each person or group of individuals their time and frame, they are perhaps the most powerful shots in the film. You look into their eyes and read their faces.

From this point of view the whole film seems to revolve around the importance of the individual. Scenes that may seem extraneous and unnecessarily drawn out (like the cameo in which Little Bob settles with his wife over a gardening-related dispute and then plays a very Lynchian charity gig) perfectly place in that film. are not out of bounds whose structure seems designed to reinforce that each person and their story matters. As Kaurismaki commented on the 2017 release of The Other Side of Hope: “We are all human beings. And tomorrow you will be the refugee. Today is him. Or him.”

While the film is undoubtedly muted in many respects, it clearly wears these wide-reaching inspirations on its sleeve. The migrant crisis is always present in the narrative, which runs throughout TV news reports. Marx’s shoe-shining partner, Chang, delivers a rare monologue in the film, revealing that “I’m not Chang. I’m from Vietnam, not China.” We are told that ‘Chang’ arrived in France on board a train twelve years ago and spent eight years vying for his new identity: “I can enjoy Social Security and vote if I want to. I Support my family. I am a happy man. But I am not that.” The film hits the nail on the head, if somewhat squarely.

But a more direct approach may well be necessary. The sentiment, though the film has turned ten years old, unfortunately, remains relevant. today also, “Walking Dead“Start their desperate journey and yet they are discovered in shipping containers or in the back of lorries or on shores. Yet, in all likelihood, as Chang remarks, “there are more birth certificates than fish in the Mediterranean.” “. Just last week, the government was ready to send the first plane of asylum seekers to Rwanda unless it was stopped by a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. The refugee crisis is not a problem of the past. That, as Le Havre makes clear, is never absolute.

Like many fairy tales, the film’s approach does not fool itself or its audience into idealism. Although reviewed upon release as Kaurismaki’s “most upbeat film yet”, Le Havre is not quite as sheer, and the film’s ending is ambiguous. Idrisa’s chances are slim. Kaurismaki’s framing of the characters’ simple plan, however, offers a glimmer of hope. He firmly believes that something can and will be done to protect Idrisa, if only at this stage of his journey, the decision to help the boy is clearly framed as an obligation, a Responsibility that the whole city can leave behind.

The nuances in Kaurismaki’s curious approach make the film’s presentation of the film deceptively flat and the storybook appropriately complex – the film as a work of art, first and foremost, allows it to become an effective work of activism. Is. Le Havre’s old-fashioned sensibility doesn’t stop it from being a film uniquely made for today. By imagining a world that is slightly different from our present, a reality familiarly ours but once removed, its narrative of expected action enters the realm of potentiality, not so much fantasy. This can easily happen; We are one step away.

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Reference from lwlies.com

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