Without knowing it, Alfred and Julia live in a land of pure invention. It is the richest and most beautiful land in the world. From a height, this land looks like a piece of felt, from close up like a clean and tiny park.
Without knowing it, Alfred and Julia live in a land of pure invention. It is the richest and most beautiful land in the world. From a height, this land looks like a piece of felt, from close up like a clean and tiny park. The footpaths are lined with benches and the streets with banks. Alfred and Julia have been married for 8 years, are childless, and live on the 16th floor of a new building. Thanks to their various crises, they have got to know each other somewhat better, but their most outstanding characteristic remains their mediocrity. On Friday, August 12th 1977, a mysterious epidemic breaks out in their country. The mass media ensure that the news is widely broadcast. The authorities order a ban on information, but those concerned break their imposed silence. On Sunday evening, it becomes known that the epidemic was no more than a kind of "dress rehearsal" for a real emergency. Alfred and Julia continue to live in a land of pure invention - but now they are conscious of the fact.Written by
Ulf Kjell Gür
B&W Swiss social criticism-slash-allegorical drama from the 70s
This cryptic B&W drama is a low-key allegory about modern western (and particularly Swiss) complacency, conformity, bureaucracy and materialism. A proto-yuppie couple, neither of them remarkable in any way, have their comfortable life disrupted by an external "epidemic" that may or may not exist-its symptoms include people suddenly yearning to be outdoors, feeling nostalgia, and thinking that their skin is literally getting thinner. But whether this "virus" is something real or not, it does provide an excuse for people to express hitherto suppressed dissatisfactions with their jobs, homes, each other.
Though low-budget in scale and ambiguous in narrative terms, it's a very concisely controlled film-even if you're not sure exactly what message that control is ultimately conveying. The presentation is too neutral, despite some eccentric incidents, to heighten the sci-fi fantasy and paranoid-thriller elements that often seem to be bubbling under the surface.
There's a certain intellectual detachment to the whole enterprise that to me seems familiar from other Swiss arthouse movies of this era, and is both intriguing and a little arid. In rough terms, the impact falls somewhere between, say, "Jeanne Dielman" and Michael Haneke-another critique of middle-class normality mysteriously teetering on the edge of chaos and (perhaps) violence. It's an interesting, accomplished film, though I can't say it will necessarily stick with me. (A qualifier, however: For the first 40 minutes or so I wasn't giving it my full attention, having to run in & out of the room several times. So there might be more cumulative effect than I experienced.) By the way, the onscreen title translation was "The Grey Zone."
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