A foray into the then contemporary world of professional wrestling in Montreal with no narration, only direct sound and silent film style inter-titles. Beginning at the Montreal Forum, where the biggest bouts are staged, a behind-the-scenes look is shown at the staging and choreography of the spectacular shows, and the preparation of the wrestling stars who perform them. During the show the filmmakers are just as interested in the spectators, who identify with the heroes of the ring, as the match itself. Their emotions mimic the drama unfolding on the stage, which they know is fake but allow themselves to be swept away with the showmanship regardless. The main event of fan-favorite wrestler Edouard Carpentier provides the climax. Also in the film are the after-show locker room reactions of the performers and the back-street wrestling parlors where the craft is learned and practiced. Written by
Like most films to come out of the 'Quiet Revolution' period in Quebec, La Lutte is disarming in it's presentation and subject matter. The filmmakers used the then new handheld technology to shoot a documentary that superficially covers the local wrestling circuit of the day. What Jutra et al. were really interested in was the fact that the audience of such an event are fully aware that entertainment wrestling is fake (I'm sorry to disappoint all of you out there that, until now, didn't realize this; as well, while I'm on a roll, the tooth-fairy-- doesn't exist). Nevertheless, people allow themselves to be swept away in the illusion that a drama such as this provides. Using the cinema to explore these ideas (which were first examined by Roland Barthes, and he is thanked in the end credits) with the cinema verite aesthetic, one could conclude that the filmmakers were suggesting an overall, albeit subtle, thesis statement that was intended to comment on the cinema itself through the thin vale provided by the film's immediate subject matter.
If films from the French New Wave, documentaries by Pennebaker or the Marsyles Brothers interest you, then this film will be quite appealing. The ideas of the film today seem a bit idealistic and caught up in the then rebellious trends surrounding 'real cinema', however using wrestling as a means to deconstruct the structure of narrative 'art', which could be called entertainment for the bourgoisie, is quite clever. One most note, however, that using wrestling as an analogy wasn't the filmmaker's idea, but Barthes' from one of his essays. But let me tell you, watching this film was a hell of a lot more enjoyable than reading Barthes...
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