October 12, 2011

Le diable probablement (France 1977)

"Le diable probablement" or "The devil, probably" - is one of my all time favourite film titles. It is enigmatic but also getting very much to the point once you hear it spoken out casually in a scene of the film. It also sums up the film perfectly without giving anything away.

We as humans watch the world slowly but steadily falling apart and while we are conscious of that fact, we seem to be unable to do something against it. Most of us are not bad people but we have resigned inwardly in the face of the sheer amount of social injustice and the irrevocable destruction of our environment. But we don't take any responsibilty, we always blame someone else. And we might even be better off for it: if we really would face our failures we might end up like the main character in the film.

Bresson made the film in the late 70s which in a not-so-distant future will be called the time when the world finally got of balance. Unlimited consumption, capitalism and industrialization took over while nature became increasingly threatened. The growth of the world's population got out of control while CO2 emmission were starting to skyrocket. The sad thing is that what was only suggested back then has gotten much worse in the meanwhile. Bresson's bleak vision now seems shockingly real - at least if you look as closely as he does.

The young people in the film seem to be the only ones that still care about the future despite their apparent lack of feelings. Some still try to fight for a better world while others just can't handle it anymore. Bresson's spare style and his preference of "non actors" has rarely been more appropriate than here. In a world without values, there is hardly any room left for emotions either. The young people today seem to be different than this generation. Now the prevailing attitude is "the world is going to hell so we might just as well have some fun." Maybe because there is no more Bresson to remind us that maybe we shouldn't...

I'm usually an optimistic person and if my review seems to be overly negative then this is only due to the strong impact the film had on me. I can't help feeling otherwise after watching this devastating film. From a cinematic point of view, it may not be the best film in Bresson's ouevre but it is still close to a masterpiece. And it certainly gives me the shivers.


Youth without Youth: "Le diable probablement"