Sunday, September 12, 2010

Indochine, mon amour!

I'm shocked, but mostly exhilarated! -this is exactly the kind of news i've been longing and pining for for so long; Marguerite Duras' "Un Barrage contre le pacifique" or "The Sea Wall" (1950) has been made into a movie! (another, based on the same novel, was made in the 1950s, but it's too awful!) -and with one of my favorite actresses of all time; Isabelle Huppert!
But how on earth could I not know about this?!

Directed by the cambodian Rithy Panh and a collaboration between France, Cambodia and Belgium. "The Sea Wall" is set in 1930s Cambodia, then part of French Indochina -where A French widow, played by Huppert, lives with her son and daughter. They make a meager living from growing rice, but their paddies are just on the border of the sea and flooded each year and the crops ruined. So their only hope appears to be in constructing a sea wall. The mother persists and will not give up, fighting nature as well as colonial bureaucracy.

Her 20-year-old son Joseph (Gaspard Ulliel), an irascible young man, is equally determined, but it's the teenaged daughter Suzanne (Astrid Bergés-Frisbey) who proves to be most stubborn. One day, her willowy beauty catches the attention of a well-to-do, foppish Chinese man; Monsieur Jo. As his interest in Suzanne verges toward obsession, her mother and brother find themselves in a quandary: Monsieur Jo could provide the financial security they need, but he is Chinese, and racial prejudice is a fact of life in their society...

So now i can't wait to get to see this beauty-orgy! A pity though that it doesn't seem to have been up for theatrical release anywhere and that i's been released practically without fanfare, just shown at some festivals. I'm going to have to make do with the dvd, ...whenever it pleases to arrive!

Anyway; Here's the trailer:

Asia, and the southeast in particular, has been a long-standing fascination with me, and a favorite destination of escape -even though i've never been there. -except for in my dreams... through books, like "the Gentleman in the parlour" (1930) by W. Somerset Maugham, or films such as "The Scent of Green papaya" or "Indochine" with Catherine Deneuve, and "the Lover"-based on another novel by Duras; "l'Amant"...And through music, tea -naturally... countless travelling magazines... -the lush landscapes, the warmth, dense jungles, tribes and ancent civilizations, the old temples of the Khmers... All those places where i've always drifted away in my thoughts... -and of course; through food!

Delicious vietnamese dishes at Monsieur Vuong in Berlin.
The famous Halong Bay, Vietnam - still from "Indochine"."The Gate of Humanity" in Huế.

Buddhist nun at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Photo by David Wilmot 19th Century, french engraving of the Bayon Temple, Angkor
Angkor Thom Photo: Marc Riboud - (c) Musée GuimetAngkor Thom - Photo by Émile Gsell - (c )Musée Guimet (above)

Traditional Khmer dancers in front of Angkor Wat, Cambodia - 1920s.

And another favorite, as a bonus - the gorgeous trailer for Wong Kar Wai's equally gorgeous film "In the Mood For Love" (2001); -set to Bryan Ferry's beautiful version of the song that gave the film it's name.

"The Sea Wall" images; (c) Catherine Dussart Productions CDP


1minutefilmreview said...

nice post!

Tutta Rolf said...


Anonymous said...

Love this Oriental theme.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

An exceptionally delightful post! I'm in the mood for more travel. I have the Duras book - 'The Lover'. Don't you love the photograph of her on the cover? Need to read 'The Sea Wall'. Maybe the movie went straight to DVD. Will read the book first. Thanks, Tutta.


A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Just watched the trailer for 'The Sea Wall' I can't wait to see it!!

Also - I'm a fan of Bryan Ferry. Enjoyed his moody 'In the Mood for Love'.


Laura said...

Thanks for a lovely post Tutta. This transported me far away on my lunch hour! The film looks beautiful...

R. Gratz said...

Phenomenal post!!! I'm kind of obsessed with your blog now and you for sure have a follower in me!! I can't wait to read more greatness from your end! OBSESSED! :)