7.0/10
83
2 user 1 critic

Snakes and Ladders (1980)

Zig-Zag - le jeu de l'oie (Une fiction didactique à propos de la cartographie) (original title)

Director:

Writers:

(scenario), (scenario)
Reviews

Photos

Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Fantasy | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The Queen of the Night battles the Queen of the Sun over a magical diamond that will allow the winner to remain on Earth, specifically in modern day Paris.

Director: Jacques Rivette
Stars: Juliet Berto, Bulle Ogier, Jean Babilée
The Territory (1981)
Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A small group of well-to-do vacationers go on a hiking trip into the woods. Foolishly unprepared to deal with Mother Nature and their situation, they wander around lost for days and weeks, ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Ruiz
Stars: Geoffrey Carey, Paul Getty Jr., Jeffrey Kime
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A motley quintet of inept small-time thieves bungle the burglary of a local pawnshop in this Italian farce.

Director: Mario Monicelli
Stars: Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Renato Salvatori
That Day (2003)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A father (Michel Piccoli) is scheming to have his slightly mental daughter from an earlier marriage (Elsa Zylberstein) killed by allowing a murderous psychopath (Bernard Giraudeau) to be ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Ruiz
Stars: Bernard Giraudeau, Elsa Zylberstein, Jean-Luc Bideau
Repast (1951)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Michiyo lives in the small place Osaka and is not happy with her marriage, all she does is cook and clean for her husband.

Director: Mikio Naruse
Stars: Ken Uehara, Setsuko Hara, Yukiko Shimazaki
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
Pascal Bonitzer
Jean-Loup Rivière
Edit

Storyline

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Mystery

Edit

Details

Country:

Release Date:

17 September 1980 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Snakes and Ladders  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The Best Kind of Nightmare: Brilliantly Kafkaesque
25 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It opens with H, a protagonist whose name evokes the nightmarish fictions of Franz Kafka, explaining that he woke up in a parked car with no recollection of arriving. The car is not operational so he walks across a field where he finds a strange man playing some variation of Snakes and Ladders. Although the man tells him that he has been sitting there playing the game for a long time and it isn't for two players, H is unwittingly sucked into the game. He becomes aware of his involvement with the game only two hours later when the game player calls to him on a Paris street.

H tries to tell the mystery man that he has an appointment and he cannot play but he is told he has already begun playing. The next phase of the game involves charting and solving the labyrinth of the city streets. As the film continues the game constantly changes scale and the goals of H and the other man change along with it; this is just as confusing to H as it is to the viewer. Just when it seems that H has escaped or wandered away from the game his opponent appears to talk about strategy again. To further complicate things, H sometimes falls asleep and his dreams (which almost definitely occur within a film which is a dream itself) reflect the things that are happening to him. As this continues, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish the new dreams from the reality of the film's main narrative.

This film features some very ambitious but very obviously low budget effects that I found to be quite effective. Some however, might find them to be somewhat silly, in fact well known critic Jonathan Rosenbaum compared them to Ed Wood.

I haven't really formulated a complete interpretation of the film yet but I do have a couple of half formed ideas about it.

Idea 1: Obviously Snakes and Ladders is at least partially about maps and the way people use them. The film implies that people need maps to understand the world and make places seem more familiar. People fear the unknown and having a map of a place makes it less unknown and hence less threatening. At the same time, however, no map is complete and even the best map is no substitute for first hand knowledge of a place. Like every human endeavor, cartography is an attempt by humans to master their environment and increase the power and influence of the human race but its true success is sometimes hard to measure. This last point is made especially clear in a scene in which the mystery man mentions that a certain mountain range which has been found on maps for over one hundred years only exists on paper.

Idea 2: It's no coincidence that the film starts off with an unrealistic setting/incident. The events that make up Snakes and Ladders are a dream, but this dream has larger significance than most; the game in this dream represent existence itself. At the beginning of the dream H is pulled into a game he has no understanding of much the way a newborn is pulled into a world he has no understanding of. As H progresses he gets tips from the other player and he begins to understand something about the way the game works. However, as the game continues new complications arise and he as he understands more he begins to realize that there is still much he does not understand. This is a metaphor for growing up and facing life's challenges. Ultimately the game goes beyond anything H or even the more experienced player can understand just as in spite of all the collected efforts of every human society there are things we still can't explain. Thus the dream teaches H something about the human experience and earns its subtitle une fiction didactique à propos de la cartographie which is of course somewhat humorously referenced in the film when the narrator says, "He is the victim of the worst kind of nightmare, the didactic nightmare."

I'll have to give both of these ideas some more thought but I think they both add to my own appreciation of the film.


5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Snakes and Ladders (1980) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page