Chance, volition, and the large effects of tiny causes swirl through Paris on a single day. A clerk born 11 March 1977 hears her horoscope on the way to work: today she'll meet her true love, but she must be patient. Before the day ends under a full moon, twenty lives intersect time and again in unpredictable, connected ways: a jilted lover holds a souvenir pebble, a stolen coffee maker looks suspicious at a Metro stop, a yellow rain slicker is passed on as a gift, lettuce causes a bicycle accident, a leaf betrays an habitual liar who's just told the truth, and an Algerian waiter, also born 11 March 1977, sees a bug cross a tablecloth. Magical sand from the Sahara is in the air.Written by
The original French title translates as "the flapping of a butterfly's wings". In Hong Kong it was titled Amelie 2, to capitalise on the success of Audrey Tautou's breakout movie Amélie (2001). Although Happenstance (2000) predates Amelie by a year, the two were released in reverse order in most non-French markets. See more »
When the old lady takes the faulty coffee machine back to the store it is seen in a Phillips box, when she arrives back home with the same faulty machine it is in a Moulinex box. See more »
The Destiny Man:
You see, every detail, every gesture, as slight as it may be, reveals an infinity of truths and thus has an endless repercussion and grandiose effects.
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Laurent Firode's film Happenstance (2000) is an extended meditation on the relationship between fate and perception. In a film with few real characters and no discernable plot, Firode would seem to be doing nothing more than expounding a form of applied chaos theory if it wasn't for the fact that this film is so much fun. The joy of this film comes with the god's-eye view afforded to the viewer. In a single day of Parisian urban interactions, none of the characters perceive the intricate web of chance that ties them together to the delight of the audience.
Happenstance uses chance relations to construct a paradigm which allows for a kind of karmic justice to flourish. As the human mind develops free will from the deterministic relationships of atoms and molecules, so justice emerges from a series of random seeming encounters. The lovers meet, as they were destined to. The cheating husband avoids harming his innocent son. Luc Gossard admits his failings, and while he loses his job, he gains his inheritance.
This perspective could be termed a sort of theoretical physicist's version of karma. Complex systems with seemingly random cause-effect relations are recognized to have very significant levels of emergent organization when seen from different scales. The human mind is one example; the formation of the solar system from clouds of cosmic dust is another. Biology can offer the concept of evolution, which is based on random-seeming interactions between predator and prey leading to extremely complex forms and survival mechanisms, from the venus fly trap to the giraffe. Is it so very unbelievable that a network of humans (intelligent particles) can exhibit an emergent intelligence of its own?
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