For her third and gratifying movie presented at the FID, Julie Chaffort takes us on a variation of the themes addressed in her earlier films. Légendes is a gallery of scenes, a series of still frames in which the figures submerged in an aquatic landscape come to life to narrate, sing, play music or dance. It’s like an open-air singing museum reminiscent of and just as good as music-hall.
In the entrance to her gallery, Chaffort has produced a historical scene, an equestrian portrait of a knight in armour whose steed is held by a squire in front of the timeless backdrop of a lake bordered by a cliff. The devil is in the detail, as they say. In Chaffort’s films, this devil is humour. The anachronism of a blue sneaker makes a mockery of the picture’s solemnity. The care taken with the composition, the costumes, the staid postures, the knight’s scansion of a text by Pascal Quignard describing the beginning of humanity’s winter after the original sin – are all thrown into disorder by this whimsical detail. The beauty of the location, the text and the image is not changed by laughter: the comedy here strips Nature of its sublime stakes and gives levity and frivolity to its rustling foliage, bubbling brooks and its madcap cacophonies.
But in these incongruous scenes, beyond the humour, there is also nostalgia for and deference to the places and their inhabitants: an answer to their invitations. The rivers are scenes made for the drift of a cantata, the lakes for discursive flights. The ferry platforms are made to welcome the fanfares who add their joyful, colourful and outdated din to the noise of the engines. Here, Nature, liberated from seriousness, welcomes with open arms the generosity and nobility of the amateur performance. (C.L.)