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Some movies of the seventies seem to have been made yesterday;not this
one.It's in fact one of the most dated works of its era.It's some gentler
version of "Themroc" ,less pretentious, funny (in places) but not
necessarily more palatable .
There's no story,but a spate of minisketches ,some of them witty,("There's no more property,so there're no more thieves" the warden says while opening the cells ),a lot of them tedious and repetitive.There was enough material to make a very good short,but 85 minutes it's inevitably too long.In a nutshell,let's stop working,let's stop producing,let's stop everything and all you need is love.Hence the title "l'an O1" (=year 01):why a 0,by the way?This is the typically "events of May 68 way of life" film.
If you like it ,try these :Claude Faraldo's "themroc" ,Agnès Varda's "l'une chante et l'autre pas" ,Jean-Luc Godard's " tout va bien"
It was Jacques Doillon's first effort.Although it seems puerile today,it nevertheless displays this director's intellectual ambitions.His best works remain the more accessible :the moving "un sac de billes" (1975)-which people who liked "au revoir les enfants" must see- and the strange disturbing "la drôlesse"(1979) which tells the story of A a hung-up young man who locks up a teenage girl in an attic.
Unlike FAR FROM Vietnam (1967; directly preceded by it in my viewing
schedule), which the late Alain Resnais was also a part of, this is not
a documentary (yet a fairly obscure title in comparison) but more or
less a narrative film (thus making the individual input of the three
directors indiscernible!) albeit still of a heavily political and, by
extension, dated nature. Incidentally, while an off-screen voice
complaining that the credits are hard-to-read is assured that people
watching the movie will recognize the actors regardless, I only caught
sight myself of a pre-stardom Gerard Depardieu in the very first
What we have here is the anti-establishment attitude, typified by the May 1968 riots and which would inform several contemporaneous releases, agreeably presented via a series of satirical sketches not that this alleviates the intrinsic didacticism of such fare. The premise is simple enough: a day and time are set on which all work is to stop; at first, the formerly oppressed classes relish their freedom (for which they also give up their house keys, since property no longer belongs to any individual but to one and all, with elderly people reluctant to embrace this viewpoint forced to improvise in concealing it!) but soon begin to realize that some vital services simply cannot be abandoned, and themselves start to feel bored with the lack of activity (not even the opportunity to develop relationships suffices to satisfactorily occupy their time)! Eventually, they start taking up new interests, including turning pavements into makeshift gardens and, so as not to forget where they were coming from, theatrical representations of their former lives are held!
Unsurprisingly, the level of the writing (by someone listed solely under the nom-de-plume Gebe'!) is hit-or-miss and, yet, some of it proves quite inspired: workers in a given position dub themselves like rock groups; a young man's 'novel' pursuit involves the collection of paper money, which has ostensibly lost its value since the onset of "Year One", but he still has amassed a staggering 648 million Francs!; this obvious financial crisis leads to a mass suicide (by way of people leaping out of windows into the crowded streets below) in Wall Street a scene which recalls a similar gag in the contemporaneous Monty Python vehicle AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (1971)!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a strange and enjoyable piece of spirit of '68 wish fulfilment.
Probably the most ambitious movie I have seen, this was pretty much
trying to start a revolution using the people watching it. One day,
year 01 starts, people just stop doing what they've done before and
re-assess how to live. Pre-01 people spend their time working really
hard to amass trinkets and white goods, don't speak to strangers and
are tied in possessive relationships. Afterwards people take a step
sideways, don't turn up to work, get rid of their keys, spend more time
reading novels and apricate in free association and amateur dramatics.
The thing that is the most devilishly indulgent in the film is when a
group of conspirators meets to plot a re-establishment of the old
order. They are secretly filmed and become the nation's favourite
comedy show, every time they meet they are broadcast and the audience
is requested to keep mum about the show less the conspirators find out.
It's the left wishing to turn the tables and not be the laughing stock
Some of the ideas are very provocative, such as when a guy who strangled his wife is told that he oughtn't to feel guilty as it was an inevitable consequence of pre-01 possessive love. The children under a new sun also let loose all the burglars, after all, there is nothing to steal in the post-01 society, so why not. At one point an old lady asks a young man to put his hand up her skirt, which is something you're not likely to see in any other movie of its time or now.
Jean Rouch shoots a segment in Africa and Alain Resnais in New York as the spirit of revolution spreads. The bit in New York is particularly atrocious, the actors clearly not feeling the movie at all. There are some references to looking towards China which must leave the writer a bit cherry-faced in light of the atrocities committed in the name of Maoism.
For all it's faults the movie has undoubtable charm, there's a sequence where a father and his daughter indulge in a sort of burglary game, where they go into a property in search of jewels, which they of course leave in their place as everything should have a place in order to avoid being lost. They wake a couple up whilst they do this but the couple are quite happy to go back to sleep, as if nothing of significance happened at all. I must admit that I often walk the streets and see nice homely properties and wonder what it would be like to talk to the people in them or have a look around, without the slightest desire to intrude or upset. Wouldn't it be lovely if none of us had anything to fear from the others and we could all check out all the dwellings, turning cities into beautiful labyrinths.
Like I say although manifestly problematic, the film is not as dated as some make out, and the kind of attitudes that it promotes are more recognisable today, with many more people looking towards quality of life as more important than working flat out, with much more sexual liberty, and fewer people building pressure cooker marriages over decades. To an extent it was prescient, although amongst many others, its suggestion that most people want/would like to spend time reading novels and expanding their minds is wishful thinking to say the least.
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