Paris today. Simon works as psychologist in human resources department of petrochemical corporation. When Management gets him to investigate one of the factory's executives, Simon'perception goes disturbingly chaotic and cloudy. The experience affects his body, his mind, his personal life and his sensibility. The calm assurance that made him such a rigorous technician starts to falter. Written by
La question humaine is a difficult movie, not entertaining, but very rewarding. It gets slowly under your skin and makes you reflect about who you are, who we are, what our parents, have transmitted us generation after generation. Basically, it is a movie about transmission, about languages, about words that echo across time.
That's why I believe it is simplistic to say that Nicolas Klotz and scenarist Elizabeth Perceval are comparing the way companies are managed today to the way the shoah was "managed". They are much more subtle than that. What Elizabeth says in the interview which accompanies the DVD is something close to this: "When Simon is reading the technical report written during the war by Theodor Jüst, he is touched by the words used, the structure of the sentences, their cold, technical tones, of which he finds echoes in his own industrial psychologist language." In a similar vein, on wikipedia, you can find the following quote by Nicolas, in French, which says something similar. As Nicolas himself says, there is something hazy, "gazeux" about the film, about these "résurgences" from the past. Which, again, does not mean that industrial companies like SC Farb (reference the product used in gas chambers) are modern-day gas chambers...
There are many beautiful, touching, although painful moments in this movie. I think in particular of Lynn's account (Valerie Dreville) of Matthias Jüst, discovering when he was young the atrocities committed by his father. She says she was in love with the boy he once was. Then he had the courage to confront his father. As an older, powerful man, CEO of a large business unit, he seemed to have lost that kind courage.
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