Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976) Poster

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Aging Radicals
HRoss00721 April 2007
And I thought I was a radical activist in my student years of the late 60's. I was aware of rising social consciousness, rebellion against materialism and corporate greed. I was not aware back then how world wide the phenomenon was. I am still surprised when I find evidence that breaks with tradition and convention were going on in Poland, France, and well, yeah, Switzerland? And from the mid 70's on, I can relate to the pressures to find our place in a world of work - constantly seeking meaningful employment in a system that rarely reflects our new values. These characters, Organic Farmers, Creative History Professor, Sketcher of Animals, Proofreader, Grocery Cashier, and more are still seeking meaningful lives and relationships. Even in unorthodox sexual experimentation they seek meaningful respectful relationships. I am Labor. With my intellectual pursuits, study of French Language and foreign Cultures, Humanitarian Concerns, Respect for Nature - I thought I would be so much more in my life. As these characters, who seem to slowly accept the existential realities of that post 60's burst of Hope - we now pass those hopes on silently to our children.
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One of the few genuinely politically conscious treatments of society present in the film medium
justinmo-13 September 2005
How was this film ever made? It presents many aspects of the left wing of politics genuinely, as they see themselves; not as reinterpreted through a capitalist middle-class filter or stereotype. Film has been such a capital intensive medium that it seems none ever get made without the approval of some millionaire or corporate backer, and that all structure themselves, and the worldviews they express, to win this approval; consequently people on the left get used to caricature or demonization as their only screen presence. Not so in "Jonas...". In a way the characters are archetypes, representing: sexual freedom, generosity and social consideration, intellectual expansiveness instead of reductionism, atheism, naturalistic identification, communality in spirit, stoicism etc; but I find identification with the characters easy. But it is not Utopian; the consequences for generosity of spirit in a greedy context are dramatized in the story of imprisonment and persecution. As with all good politics, the underlying message is not a mere power squabble; but a reflection on cosmic order, what the right tends to call "spiritual" concerns. The inflowing of people into the energy of the birth of Jonas and the disintegration of that unity after the event has transpired makes "Jonas..." a profoundly philosophic and satisfying story. After 30 years this is still one of my favourite movies.
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It's a great time to revisit this film.
Alan Hochberg7 July 1999
I first saw this film when it was new. When I saw the title in a local video store, I couldn't resist the chance to see it again on the eve of Jonah's 25th birthday. Some of the political rhetoric is dated, but in some ways it's amazing how little has changed. The film is in some ways about taking stock of one's life. And seeing it twice, almost 25 years apart, certainly helped me to do that.
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Seven years after 1968
vesa-51 November 2000
This movie elegantly captures the zeitgeist of ca 1975, seen through individual lives of some Genevans who in minor ways attempt to keep the sparkle of rebellion alive while their dreams from 1968 fade away, facing the reality of the 1970s. Its blend of tongue-in-cheek comedy and melancholy sadness makes it impossible to forget once you've seen it.
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A charming movie
fred_astaire14 November 2003
For a French-speaking American younger than Jonas would now be, I couldn't always easily connect with the collection of colorful individuals (among others, an unorthodox high school teacher, a couple of organic vegetable farmers, a laid-off type-setter, a disillusioned journalist, an eccentric cashier with a compassionate bent, and a redhead captivated by tantric sex) that got together in this film, post Paris manifestations of May '68, to share their frustrations, their ruminations and their fantasies. But the film chewed on heaps of intriguing controversial issues of the time - many lines taken directly from Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda - which continue to stir emotion in any thinking, feeling individual. The film is also personal, full of heart and full of intellectual stimulation. It's melancholic and nostalgic, yet wistfully optimistic. Recommended to anyone interested in the provocative issues that fomented the famous student demonstrations around the world just a few years before this film was conceived.
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Thought provoking Cinéma vérité critique of capitalism
timmy_5015 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The end titles somewhat cheekily credit Jean Piaget and Jean Jacques Rousseau among others, but Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 has neither the philosophical heft nor the dry tone of the work of such thinkers. Instead, the film attempts to give its viewer a new perspective on contemporary society by portraying characters from various social strata and their failure to reconcile their idealistic outlooks with the harsh reality of a capitalist system.

The film is structured as a series of disjointed scenes that gradually reveal a number of loosely connected narrative strands. Perhaps the most affecting strand is the one about Marie, a grocery store checkout girl who gives away as much food as she sells. Although some of her gifts to customers seem arbitrary, she also makes it a point to help elderly people with small pensions. Like several other characters, Marie herself is stuck with a menial job even though she seems to be capable of something more challenging and fulfilling. She even has to live in one country and work in another due to a scarcity of employment. Of course, her behavior is inevitably noticed and it garners her a harsh punishment. The same happens to an honest teacher who attempts to impart lessons about the failings of the capitalist way of life to high school children and (to a lesser degree) to the environmentalists who attempt to run an organic farm.

The technical aspects of the film are fairly well handled, although some of director Alain Tanner's choices were puzzling. He frequently splices in real life footage and he also switches to brief monochrome shots at fairly arbitrary intervals. This seems to have been an attempt to add a Cinéma vérité feel to the venture, but whatever the reason for its implementation, it often falls flat. Still, there are some strangely affecting images here, particularly in the bicycle sequence that incorporates some of the film's only landscape shots to make the human built structures appear forlorn and dingy against the natural backdrop. Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 is captivating but uneven, thought provoking but not profound.
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One of the most important films of its time
zetes15 June 2002
While Jonah is generally referred to as a comedy, it is not. It does have some, perhaps many, funny moments. Comedy is certainly a part of it. But the film is a serious and almost perfect meditation on the post-revolutionary era and what's in store for the future. It is also a document on the passage of time, the ways in which the world changes around us, the ways in which we as individuals evolve, or devolve. The different characters negotiate their existences in different ways, with different philosophies. The mood of the film is very sad, but in the gentlest way possible. There's a hope for the future, but it's not a big one. It's quite pessimistic. The musical score, by Jean-Marie Senia, is exquisite, one of the best ever written for the cinema. The camera moves beautifully. 10/10.
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Everyone is forced to see the unpleasant truth sooner or later.
Lee Eisenberg20 September 2005
"Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000" may be the only Swiss movie that I know about, but it's a great one. It focuses on several aging radicals and their realization that maybe the world couldn't eventually be like they had one day hoped for. They had participated in the 1968 uprising in Paris - and everything surrounding that - but are now trying to figure out where exactly they belong in this changing world of the 1970s.

Alain Tanner really created something impressive here. We see how, although they understand that their goals were probably unattainable, they have not abandoned their political views. "JWWB25ITY2000" is what great film-making is all about.
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Smart, critical film that is able to change opinions and views
Systematicer22 August 2004
Nice, small, intellectual film that criticizes the political system of its time. Even though the situation hasn't changed much yet. It even more criticizes the consumer society and economy for its lack of humanity. It makes clear, that the government has complete control over the masses, over me and over you - we have nothing.

Economy is going to eat itself up until chaos will rule again and nobody has control anymore.

The characters in the film try to change something, but it seems to go nowhere. They have good intentions, but simply lack the power. Just as these characters, we also get suppressed by our government. This film is not just about Switzerland of France. It's about democracy and free market economy. The film can make people realize how hopeless our existence is. How decadent our lives are...

Watching this film certainly isn't a waste of time. If you like your films a little more ambitious, it doesn't fail to entertain. And even if you can't begin "doing" anything with its message, the film is full of interesting facts about society and simply about the way it is.

9/10 for a smart, critical film that is able to change opinions and views.

PS: If you ask yourself whether you should watch it on TV today, or not...DON'T MISS IT! BECOME SOMEONE ELSE!
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Fallout tapestry
Warning: Spoilers
A film of rare spiritual beauty that deals with themes both universal and domestic Swiss. Universal in the focus on the relationship of an individual to democratic society and its supposed freedoms, and the fallout from failed revolutions of 1968, in France, Mexico and Czechoslovakia (crushing of the Prague Spring), in the year of the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and of anti-Vietnam war protests. Domestic in the issues it raises about the rights of cross-border workers in Switzerland (recurrent from Tanner's 1974 film Le milieu du monde), the ghost of the Geneva Massacre (of socialist protesters in 1932 by the Swiss Army), of the contradiction of a prosperous though backwards country where female suffrage was achieved at a federal level only in 1971.

The film follows eight individuals, whose names all begin with the letter M, who are not happy following the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and seek different ways to express that whether that is in looking to withdraw from society, sabotage it, or develop an alternative. They show a society that puts its foot on your neck if you fail to play along and sleepwalk the path laid out for you through school and the workplace. There's thatch-haired Marie (played by actress Miou-Miou), who performs individual acts of covert defiance at her supermarket job; her boyfriend, Marxist-Leninist teacher Marco, chock-full of enthusiasm and desire to help people be happy and grow; Madeleine who seeks an internal retreat via her interest in Vama Marga tantra; her preferred partner for this "realisation" Max, who performs acts of capital sabotage on a larger level, a disillusioned 1968er, who was in a group but now acts unilaterally; buzzard-headed Mathieu who sets up an alternative school for children and performs menial jobs, perhaps the closest of them to a true proletarian Marxist; his wife Mathilde, a happy mother and lover, compared to a kindly whale; finally their farmhouse hosts, animal-loving biophilosophiser Marcel and his farmer's wife Marguerite, who seems to have a secret life as a prostitute.

The individuals are for revolution but Tanner makes it clear that they're not interested in the authoritarian outcome from the USSR, so archive footage of missile-fetishisation parades are spliced in. The ultimate point is that the chance to change society for the better in 1968 was a once in an era possibility, and that the 70s folk have to wait for future generations to have a chance. The note at the end of the film for me however, sounded pessimistically, we failed to brake what is now a runaway train.

The most beautiful moment for me was when Marcel describes the singing of birds at dawn, how people don't hear things like that anymore and have built walls of silence around themselves, unable to hear the world turning, self-obsessed and desolate. I think that although it's taboo in the west to be anything other than bullheadedly proud of the way we live nowadays, there are still many people who are forced to live inside their heads, and neurosis along with mental illness is widespread. This inside-living is shown in the movie by transitions to black and white images that show wish fulfilment. The inmates in this film are only ever fleetingly fulfilled.

My heart was broken before even the first shot in the movie rolled, by the piano solo from Jean-Marie Sénia playing over the opening credits, full of present drudgery and faraway hope, that is perfectly tailored for the movie.

The movie is actually very subtle, what's easy to pass by is that there's quite a lot of conflict between the members of the group: Marxist Mathieu would like to be able to examine the farm's books so that he understands how much profit it is making and what would be a fair wage for him, however his asking that and Marguerite agreeing to it is in one of those black and white fantasy segments - the farm is very much not a commune, Mathieu sits at the same table but is fundamentally labour; Max is very belittling about his girlfriend Madeleine's tantra; there's Marguerite's illicit prostitution, which her husband is totally fooled by, her secrecy he thinks is something mysterious and beautiful; and towards the end Marco suggests that Mathilde's child be named Marie (who has been jailed), and the others don't even clock who he's referring to. Perhaps if one were to look at the film blackly, the characters are stubborn, lacking the ability to fit in, to go with the flow.
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The structure of time
hasosch22 April 2009
Marcel, the newly elected history teacher in high school, starts his course with "The structure of time" in Alain Tanner's most famous film "Jonas". Starting not from history as substance (which he sees correctly as a manifestation of time), but with its "shape" in the sense of post-Einsteinian physics, he uses blood-sausage from his father's butcher store, forming a long pipe or a corridor which he asks one of his students to cut conforming with the ticking metronome on his desk. So do people "create" their time, by hazard "splitting" it into longer or shorter, but arbitrary pieces. However, taken the blood-sausage as a whole, one sees not only its continuum, but all the folds, creases and pleats: these dis-continua are what we call the "events", the events that need time and shape time at once. The sum of events in time we call history.

Tanner's whole film is a complex example of how all these 68er people, now in a post-revolutionary confusion, try to understand the structure of time and their own position in it. Social critique philosophy is always existentialism, not on the trivial reason that a society consists of individuals, but because Being differs from existence by including the component of time into reflection. Since time cannot be structured by an individual alone, conflicts emerge, and conflicts are usually "solved" with fights and battles - as we know from history. However, a society in which conflicts can be analyzed into theses and anti-theses in order to be neutralized in syntheses, would be a society that is conscious that history starts with a metaphysics of time - as taught in the movie by Marcel. But Marcel loses his job, teaches in an old age home the "Temps Des Cerises", and history still starts with the enumeration of single battles - we have still not learned that the topic of history is not the fragile product of mankind - but the time and its structure.
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watch this before Jonah turns 25!!!
R Widell4 June 1999
John Berger is perhaps my favorite novelist and clearly this script is another of his fine works. The cinematography is exquisite. We should all be thankful for (and watch more) films such as this one that manage to avoid the all too familiar and successful models from which Hollywood refuses to deviate.
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Beauty of existence
lisovnew6 November 2016
This movie may seem an essay on political realities of 70's, but in fact it's so much more. It's like a flower blooming, I enjoyed every moment of it - because it's about life, and eternal questions, and existence. Seventies were a golden age of cinema, I believe - not as naive as sixties already, not yet too commercialised as eighties. Directors had an opportunity of discussing profound questions, and taking their time to do it. The movie is not a bit outdated, and it never will. Tanner is a genius of drawing a picture of ordinary people everyday lives, through which an eternal light shines. It's true to the core - a real art. A movie that makes you better.
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