"All the world's a stage", Shakespeare says. Not at all, "Life is a dream", Calderón answers him back. Nothing could be more wrong, Doris Day assures in her smooth voice, "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries", period. Is that so? Well, not for Christine Caron, aka Kiki, the star of "Aquarelle" (a playful title, quite like her): for her part, what else could life be but a... swimming pool? Life? Just a big big tank of water where to jump, slosh and frolic to her heart's content... before shaking herself dry until an even bigger splash. And where to swim naturally. And where to swim as fast as possible. Didn't the cheerful girl win the silver medal in 100 m backstroke at the 1964 Summer Olympics and the gold medal in the same event at the 1966 European Aquatics Championships? Didn't she, during her swimming career, win no fewer than 29 national swimming titles?
Don't worry, I will not tell inflict my own definition of life on you. You would not care a bit anyway! But what is certain is that it would neither be a pool nor a running track. For I have to admit I am not interested in sports at all. Neither is Dominique Delouche by his own admission. And yet I had a lot of fun watching this little movie. And yet, Delouche had a lot of fun making it and it shows!
Therefore the question arises :what makes this modest sports short a success ?
In the first place I would say: its exhilarating tone. Narrated by Kiki Caron herself, "Aquarelle" indeed gives an impression of healthy cheerfulness and youthful light-heartedness, quite in tune with its heroine's persona. With the star swimmer commenting, nothing seems to weigh more than a bubble, whether it is constant effort, never-ending training or cut throat competition.
The second positive point is the film's thematic consistency with the filmmaker's former and future films. As is well-known, Dominique Delouche has always favored human beings who are not content to live a routine life but who make a point of pushing their limits, whether it is artistically (his portraits of great dancers, musicians, the mime artist Marcel Marceau...) or spiritually ("Edith Stein", "La Messe sur le monde"), so why not those who surpass themselves physically, like Christine Caron? All the more as you can't manage to tame and train your body without working on yourself, which implies mental - and spiritual - strength.
Also important is the director's love of dance, music and rhythm. You can bet that Delouche will not be interested in the results of the swimmer's efforts but in the efforts themselves. Chistine Caron's movements in or outside the water will then be scrutinized, broken down and choreographed just as if she was a ballerina rehearsing.
A beautiful score adds to the pleasure of the viewing experience, especially the baroque-like accompaniment of Caron's last race. A beautiful sequence in which the music, the variety of angles (above and under the water) and the dynamic cutting combine for the best.
"Aquarelle", as previously noted, is not a pure sports film and must be appreciated for the artistic object it is. But sports fan will be interested too (Despite everything it is a filmed report on the famous swimming champion, filmed in 1965, documenting her daily efforts under the supervision of her coach Suzanne Berlioux). Feel free to see it, it can easily be found on YouTube.
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