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Palmerston North Film Society Screening

When:

Wed 31 Mar 2010, 5:30pm–7:15pm
Wed 31 Mar 2010, 8:00pm–9:45pm

Where: Downtown Cinemas, 70 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Yearly Membership Unwaged: $70.00
  • Yearly Membership Waged: $85.00
  • High School Student: $30.00
  • Triple Feature Card: $30.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Listed by: Ross Stevenson

La France
Directed by Serge Bozon
France 2007 102mins (35mm)

It’s the dead of night in the forest, with just enough light to illuminate the expanse of the surrounding darkness. A group of soldiers solemnly passes through a field, their weariness easily recognizable on their fading blue uniforms and collective downward gaze, and as the last two stragglers, who are obviously in no hurry, mosey past the camera, out come the most unlikely words for a bushy-moustached WWI soldier: “I, the blind girl...it may be the influence of the seasons, but I can tell I’m back in France.”

Sung in the anachronistic style of 1960s pop-psychedelic (and by a singer of the opposite gender), the song chronicles the travels of a sightless French girl and her love of a young English lord—yet it also captures the spirit of Serge Bozon’s La France, a cross-genre hybrid of a musical and war film, and a folkloric narrative of cross-country journeys and separated lovers, featuring playful gender-bending performances.

Even though the director (who also co-wrote the film’s four songs) resists calling the film a musical, its infectious melodies give La France its most irresistible charm, and provide a mystery even bigger than that of whom the soldiers are and where they are going.

At the centre of the film is not the band of soldiers, but Camille Robin, a young wife whose husband, François, is off fighting in the war. After receiving a letter from the front indicating that, “I don’t want you to write back to me, you’ll never see me again,” Camille chops off her hair and disguises herself as a young boy before wandering the forests, never quite sure of her location or even her intended destination, in search of the war.

The early days of Camille’s journey are captured in a few swift shots, characteristic of Bozon’s economical-but-evocative style: Camille on a path at night; Camille cracking walnuts barehanded by day; Camille at dusk on a path that leads her to the wayward soldiers, whom she hopes will guide her to her husband.- Cullen Gallagher

In an interview, director Bozon stated, “La France is more a movie about the menace of war than about the war itself, so I could have set it in the present. But I wanted, from a historical point of view, to deal with the question of desertion, which was huge in France in 1917. I filmed only the menace, and this menace is only our present, and the desertion is still, in our present history.”

Eye for Detail
Bozon stated that the film was shot using "a film stock never used before to shoot a movie, Kodak 5299, which is usually used as an intermediate film in numerical post-production." This was used to achieve the so-called "aquarium feeling" of the film's night scenes.

Screenings are at 5.30pm and 8pm at Downtown Cinemas
Members only. Palmerston North Film Society Membership is available at the door before each screening and lasts for one full year.

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