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
La Lutte (aka Wrestling) is a short documentary made by four of the founding fathers of Francophone cinema, and is one of the films which has become canonized as part of the Direct Cinema tradition. A tradition that would shape Quebec Cinema.
Direct Cinema is often confused with Cinema Verite, which Brault also helped develop, alongside Jean Rouch et al. But the Direct Cinema tradition is, by nature, less intrusive- taking more of a fly-on-the-wall approach (as much as one can when holding a camera). Fred Wiseman is probably the most famous practitioner of Direct Cinema.
This film offers us a glimpse of Quebec culture at the beginning of the Quiet Revolution. The film is gorgeously shot and focuses as much on the spectators as it does on the performers and their trade. The filmmakers show how the audience becomes part of the spectacle and are just as entertaining as the show that they are there to see- perhaps being why they love it so much.
This is a Canadian classic which can be found in the Michel Brault boxset.
8 out of 10.
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