Updated : Sep 05, 2019 in Articles

Céline 1992 (Brisseau) Clip & Discussion


Those who know Jean-Claude Brisseau
from De bruit et de fureur or even Noces blanches,
may see him as a very urban filmmaker. With Céline, it’s a different story.
It’s a film about going back to nature in which Brisseau shoots, with
great care and a kind of lyrical power, which is very rare in film,
trees, skies, countryside, the movements of clouds…
There’s something almost pantheist, which is hardly surprising
since the very subject of the film is the presence
of spirit in everything. There’s an elegiac dimension
to this film, which I think is to do
with the nature of the changes in the main character, Céline, because Céline is a young girl, whose
adoptive father is rich and powerful. And when he dies,
the daughter is completely thrown. Her boyfriend leaves her and she finds herself
cast abruptly into a void. It’s an identity crisis,
she’s lost her bearings, but it’s also an emotional void. It’s as if the world
has lost its substance. She is taken under the wing of another character who has gone
through a similar trauma. The beautiful thing in Céline is that it’s a film
about reconciliation. I think Jean-Claude Brisseau
is great at giving life to his films. A major challenge for any filmmaker is to give life to a story,
to its characters, to the emotions… But if we think of it as incarnation, there is also a liturgical side to it. That is, the way in which
the spirit enters the flesh. And that is what Céline is about. She’s a young girl
who, through meditation, goes deep within herself
and finds other landscapes, as evoked very simply
by the way the desert is filmed in this kind of interior quest
on which Céline embarks. Céline is portrayed by Isabelle Pasco
with a kind of luminosity and abandon. She rediscovers
the world inside herself. On a deeper level, the film
is the story of an invocation and a connection with grace. The lyrical manner in which
Jean-Claude Brisseau films nature gives us the sense
of a unified universe. Part of this lyrical aspect
of the film, with the images of nature, is the music, by Georges Delerue. The beauty of it
is that Brisseau doesn’t use the music to emphasise the spiritual elements, because Céline gradually
goes deeper into herself and accesses
a kind of capacity for healing. And Delerue’s music isn’t used
to emphasise these effects. Rather, it is used to accompany
shots of trees and nature. The lyricism of the film comes from the reconciled connection
with the world. This film, and indeed
all Jean-Claude Brisseau’s films, is part of that impulse. With Brisseau, even in more realist
films, such as De bruit et de fureur, there is always this Cocteau
temptation, so to speak. I mean, there’s the presence of angels,
the presence of phantoms. And there are birds. I think there’s a falcon or an eagle
in De bruit et de fureur. There’s always
some connection to the magical. And that magic need not
compromise the realist dimension. In Céline, the grace,
the miracle, comes from within. She finds it in spite of herself,
when she lets herself go. When Cocteau talked
about poetry in film, it was as something involuntary. There’s a wonderful line
in Le sang d’un poéte where the statue turns
to the poet and says: So, how’s the inspiration? The poet looks at her and says:
You can speak. The statue replies:
You wrote that statues could speak, but you didn’t believe. Céline is certainly
a film about unbelief. In this film, in order for things
to happen, you must believe. ‘

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