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Rosetta


Ron Reed
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The Invisible Man seems to have vanished from the thread. Makes me wish I'd chimed in sooner. When he compared Rosetta to a retread of Mouchette, he implied -- and maybe even said outright, I can't remember -- that Bresson's film is spiritually significant, whereas the Dardennes' is not, and I wondered if he meant that Bresson's style or formal approach were the difference-maker. I think that would be a really interesting question to pursue further.

I've seen Rosetta and Mouchette one time each, and both were viewings two or three years ago, so I'm not at all qualified to take up the subject myself. I have to admit, though, that Rosetta is the Dardenne film that worked the least for me, and I'd be hard-pressed to define its spiritual significance myself. I've enjoyed this thread for that reason. (Great post, Russ.)

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  • 1 month later...
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I was struck by the last scene - showing Rosetta in bed. ...

I thought the last scene showed her wrestling a propane tank along the ground, with the motorcycle buzzing around.

I just saw this film again.

I was wrong.

:spoilers: The last scene does not show Rosetta in bed. Instead it shows her crying on the ground and the boy (whose job she had taken) picks her up. The last shot is of her face.

I too find hope in the ending.

Sara

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Looking at this thread, we lost The Invisible Man. Like, literally lost him. Not only is he apparently not participating, but he's deleted his past posts. He's become, well, invisible.

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I've been reading both this thread and the La Promesse thread and am convinced that La Promesse, Rosetta, and The Son would all be even better on second viewing.

Hey (m), go here and look at the photo gallery. Doesn't the main male character in the next Dardennes film kinda kinda kinda look like Asher? Especially in that profile shot with the green shirt on (with the girl)... I wonder if that's going to mess with the way we view it!??

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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(Probably. We have that show Medium playing over here right now, and for some reason the husband in that show seems like Thom.)

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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The BFI's National Film Theatre is featuring a Dardenne retrospective in February, and they've put up a nice site that includes descriptions of all their works.

"Drawing on their documentary origins, they worked in a realist vein--albeit one that was distinguished, as with predecessors like Bresson or Kieslowski, by a remarkably successful merging of the physical and the metaphysical. In the four most recent features, therefore, we find simple but close observation of individuals going about their daily lives--lives, it transpires, that are marked by mystery, moral dilemma, even, perhaps, by spiritual grace." --Geoff Andrew

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Doug, on the heels of that and in addition to Russ' now famous post, I would just like to toss out that the Dardennes' are "spiritual" filmmakers by tradition as well. If I were to watch Rosetta without knowledge of the Dardennes' other work, I would have a hard time saying to myself: "This is a significantly spiritual film." But as it is, they beg comparison to Bresson, and it is by appropriating this stylistic tradition that they invest their films with a sense of spirituality.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Just saw this yesterdayand I'm still processing it. I think if I had been able to vote during the top 100 voting I probably would have gone for a 3 or 4, so in some ways with Ron on the question of how "spiritual this film is". That said, on all other levels it is just brilliant. Such an incredible performance from "Rosetta", and great camera work, etc. That final scene had so many echoes. Au Hasard Balthazar was one of them, but I was probably more reminded of a similar scene in Breaking the Waves, and just the whole thing, for me, was reminiscient of the via dolorosa. Ok perhaps I'll give it a 4 when we vote next time.

Thankfully everyone that voted this time gave it a five, which is probably why I got to see it.

Matt

Matt

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...and just the whole thing, for me, was reminiscient of the via dolorosa. Ok perhaps I'll give it a 4 when we vote next time.

Ha--funny how that works, eh? :) Give it time; its implications are liable to grow in your thoughts.

I like your via dolorosa angle; walking and movement are so important to the film. Rosetta seems to move out of compulsion, out of necessity--like a tank--but also like a teenager, wandering and tripping and awkwardly interacting with her world.

There's an interview with the Dardennes in today's Los Angeles Times (but with some spoilers for The Child):

"In an era when filmmakers feel compelled to provide facile psychological back stories to explain away the motivations of Willy Wonka or the Hulk, the Dardennes refrain from pop-psychologizing. 'People like to explain a character by what happened in his childhood, which isn't necessarily false,' says Luc. 'We don't want to say where Bruno comes from but where he's going.'

Before shooting, they rehearse with the actors for six weeks. Says Renier: 'The brothers prefer us to find the character more physically

Edited by Doug C
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There's an interview with the Dardennes in today's Los Angeles Times (but with some spoilers for The Child):

Do we have a thread yet devoted to that film? I think I'll watch it this weekend.

In the meantime, Andrew O'Hehir doesn't mince words:

"L'Enfant," the latest work by the Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, is one of the greatest films of recent years.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Like so many Dardenne films, L'Enfant is quite minimalist; so much so that I think whenever people read gushing reviews, they expect melodrama or a Big Experience, and a Dardenne film doesn't work that way--it sits and simmers and grows in your thoughts in the days and weeks afterward. I think Ebert's rave about The Son ("It is as assured and flawless a telling of sadness and joy as I have ever seen") may have set people up with improper expectations.

All that to say, see it, by all means, but remember that it's a Dardenne film and expect it to work its magic quietly over time. In all the flurry of films and activity in Toronto last year, it almost seemed anticlimactic in its straightforward, unemphatic way, but it deserves a deeper, more measured response.

A nice review in the LA Weekly (spoilers).

"As Dardenne films go, with their slow, minutely observed journeys from despair to faint hope, L

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Hmm...your link seems to have drifted during the night, Christian...

The link got me to salon, Doug, and the write up appears on page four of that article. There's a direct reference to Tsotsi for all interested. I know there's been some discussion of that in recent days.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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Huh, weird--works for me now, too.

O'Hehir writes:

"Comparisons to Dostoevski's "Crime and Punishment" come cheap; it must be the most name-checked literary classic in contemporary cinema. "L'Enfant" has the purity and fire of the original, and a clarity of vision almost unseen in the movies these days."

I think it's that "clarity of vision" that might seem straightforward or even simplistic to some. But the Dardennes have simply thought through so many permutations (you can read about their evolving screenplay in Luc's diary, recently published in France) that they've arrived at a singular, sleek rendering.

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Yeah. I mean, I remember the first I heard of L'ENFANT was in connection with their filming LE FILS and seeing the young girl pushing the stroller, and the backstory they created for her having nowhere to go and just walking aimlessly. Clearly, between that image and the finished product they really refined what interested them in that scenario.

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  • 2 months later...

...In the last, lingering shot, her expression is somehow wonderfully fresh, hopeful, yet vulnerable, as she presumably looks into the face of the last person she expected to help her.

That's really helpful to me. I didn't see that at all - but am quite prepared to believe that I simply missed it, so understated are so many nuances of the film. But even just dipping into this thread again makes me hungry to watch ROSETTA again. I'm about to set out on a plane trip: I think I'll take ROSETTA along to watch on the plane.

I see little that is politically driven in this film. I think calling it a "political" film is a real stretch and misses the point.

Can't agree with you here. It's not political in the "Republicans vs Democrats" sense of the word, but it's profoundly political in being absolutely concerned with socio-economic realities. The Dardenne brothers are as deeply concerned about those themes as they are about the spiritual/religious themes which draw the attention of this board. It's no coincidence that the Rosetta laws came into effect as a result of this film (and, indeed, that they were called that) - laws dealing with employment and wages and so on, in Belgium. As deeply political as they are deeply religious - though eschewing obvious political positions and parties as scrupulously as they avoid blatant religious storylines and dialogue.

AND -- anyone who's seen this film -- can you give me a 2-4 paragraph capsule for the film's Top100 listing? Russ or Ron, can I excerpt from what you're written (with attribution, of course)?

Can't at present do the capsule for you, but would be honoured for you to use as much or as little of my write-up as you would like.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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I agree with Ron-- the film is intensely political in the best sense of the word. It is concerned with the health of the community and devoted to looking hard at the causes and consequences of a particular context of laws and prevailing social conditions. What makes a person act like Rosetta? And when a person seems, like Rosetta, devoted to improving her lot and pulling herself up by the mythopoetic bootstraps, what sort of society makes it more difficult for her?

Edited by Russ

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A few random Rosetta observations from an amateur viewer.

WOW! What an amazing film - utterly gripping, looks improvised but I'm not at all surprised that it's made in such a meticulous fashion.

Why Spiritual? Indeed someone asked where is God in this film. Well for me this film was one of very very few films that I think can justify the 'Eye of God' approach to story telling. I'm frequently irritated by the way a novel will adopt an eye of God perspective, viewing the story from multiple angles without justification.

With Rosetta I felt that I as the viewer WAS God watching this desperate, fragile, energetic, despairing child struggle with her esistence. I think I only counted 4 or 5 shots in the entire film where the camera was more than about 12 feet away from her. That intimacy (and the astonishing performance she gives which utterly ignores our presence) was spiritual in itself. How else but from a spiritual perspective are we to understand such a close observation and understanding of another soul?

Other themes which haven't been remarked on - her relationship with the earth, specifically soil, specifically mud. Simply pointing cameras at muddy ponds with untended weedy banks was new to me, and rooted (pun intended) the film firmly in a folk-tradition, a close relationship with the earth, but not as a Gaia figure or benevelant mother, more as an element to be overcome and to transcend. We are made of dust, but we long to be more than just material.

Holocaust - this film almost immediately made me think of holocaust survivors struggling with those awful moral dilemmas. How to retain morality in a struggle for survival. That her mother 'conspired' with the 'camp commander', the tunneling INTO a camp, again the close relationship with the earth, and finally that Rosetta's motto seemed uncomfortably to be that 'work will free us' - the transcription above the gates of Auschwitz of course.

Them's pretty big spiritual themes methinks!

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  • 3 years later...

How can there be no Region 1 DVD of this film yet?

HOW CAN IT BE?!

If I have to break down and buy an existing DVD version and watch it only on my computer, does anybody want to make a recommendation? Is one version better than another?

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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