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A Tale of the Wind (1988)

Une histoire de vent (original title)
This film travels through fantasy and reality as Ivens goes to China to capture the Wind. The film reflects the film maker's journey - from his first film on the wind (Pour Le Mistral)to ... See full summary »

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, (as Marceline Loridan)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Henxiang Han
Joris Ivens ...
Himself
Guilian Liu
Hongyu Liu ...
Herself
Zhuang Liu
Marceline Loridan Ivens ...
Herself
Hong Wang
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Storyline

This film travels through fantasy and reality as Ivens goes to China to capture the Wind. The film reflects the film maker's journey - from his first film on the wind (Pour Le Mistral)to this - Iven's last film. The documentary flows between fantasy and reality moving between the images the film maker has made, seen or dreamt about. Combining documentary with Chinese mythology and opera and even Georges Méliès' "A trip to the Moon", Ivens melds culture, landscape and mindscape with breathtaking effect. The 90 year old director travels as a boy from his windmill home in erstwhile Holland in a glider made from clothes from a clothesline. We see his journey through life and into the mysticism of the orient in his old age. His memories take us into a humorous, sometimes pensive, magical journey while the film's crew struggles to capture the wind and his breath. Written by Hrishikesh

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wind | landscape | old age | life | chinese | See All (19) »

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Documentary

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Release Date:

19 March 1989 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Tale of the Wind  »

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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

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References A Trip to the Moon (1902) See more »

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User Reviews

The Man With One Lung
23 October 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

"A Tale of the Wind" is an experimental film by Dutch documentarian Joris Ivens. It would be Ivens' final film before his death, at age 90.

"Wind" is comprised of a series of vignettes. Part dream, part documentary, part fantasy, part travelogue, the film bounces fluidly from segment to segment, each adopting a different stylistic approach, but all preoccupied with "the wind". Passing metaphorically from childhood to adulthood, from birth to death, the film chronicles Ivens' lifelong "foolish pursuit": his plan to "film the invisible". Along the way, references are made to wind's various effects, Ivens' history of asthma, and Ivens' relationship with cinema, wind becoming a stand-in for something elusive sought captured by art.

Aesthetically, the film is special. Ivens mixes colour and black-and-white footage, he blends lyrical poetry with social realism, he dwells powerfully on silence and simple, graceful movements, and the film is packed with a number atmospheric passages. "Breathing represents death," an old man says, referring to Ivens' failing lungs. The film as a whole anticipates Ivens' own real life demise, the director appearing as himself throughout the picture, wrinkled, weary and on the verge of corpse-hood.

"One drunken night, when he wanted to touch the moon, a rebellious poet drowned," a line reads, speaking to the artist's quest. The film itself opens with giant windmills and bizarre mission statements, all of which recall Don Quixote, Ivens becoming the artist/fool who goes to great lengths for seemingly absurd reasons. Indeed, Ivens spends most of his film in the desert, sitting on a chair and waiting for "the wind to arrive", a momentous occasion in which he hopes "do battle" and "capture the wind". The rest of the film is preoccupied with "the wind's" effects on bodies, buildings, politics (Ivens is a staunch communist) and landscapes; how it shapes the world, how it shapes people, and how they in turn shape it, how it destroys and builds up, how it gives life and kills. Wind, here, is of course not only a "literal wind", but that which epitomises "things". "Things" intangible and tangible about man and his world. "Things" which Ivens' has spent his life seeking to catch.

"We've been expecting you," two old souls state, anticipating Ivens' death. The film closes with a shot which reverses its opening image, an airborne aircraft becoming a grounded plane, the wind silenced, the machine surrounded by the people it dwarfs.

Not many people know of Joris Ivens today. He'd make a series of documentaries/films in the 1920s, one of which was "Rain", which anticipates Ivans use of wind in this, his final film. He'd be hired in the 1940s to make propaganda pieces for Dutch colonialist interests, but instead used their money to make "Indonesia Calling", a film which assaulted the Neatherlands' role in Indonesia. His subsequent films focused on unionists, Belgian miners, worker strikes, the Soviet Union's Five Year Plan, the Spanish Civil War, Indonesia's attempts to shrug off the Imperial powers and China's resistance to Japanese invasion. Along the way, he'd become involved with various communists, radical left-wingers and thinkers, as well as Bertolt Brecht, Hans Eisler, Robert Oppenheimer and the great Herbert Marcuse. Throughout much of his life, Iven would be assaulted by people in power; the FBI classified him as being "dangerous" and "a possible Soviet agent", he'd be hounded by Netherlands' Intelligence Service, the Dutch wanted him jailed, frequently he'd have his equipment stolen or "delayed" and he was famously banned from entering certain countries by none other than General Douglas MacArthur. He died in 1989.

8/10 – See Antonioni's "Michelangelo Eye to Eye", another metaphysical deathpiece.


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