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Man, that sick old animal

The title, quoting Nietzsche describing Man as a sick animal, seems to fit Jean-Luc Nancy, famous for his thinking and especially his striking account of his experience of a heart transplant. But there is no miserabilism here, no sickness or age – instead we have a portrait of the philosopher in action in various different aspects. The first course is biographical, with family archives that take us back to the philosopher’s early years, setting the stage for childhood memories as he secretly breaks his first taboos.
Once the source of the river of his life has been evoked, we then see the silt downstream in the philosopher’s work in all its forms in his daily life. Simone Fluhr does not give us an anthology of the interpretation of concepts, offering us instead the portrait of a thinker in his everyday activities. We have Nancy giving a conference to children, reacting to an excerpt from a film, or rehearsing his role in a play about which we learn nothing. In a key sequence, he receives an academic with whom he discusses a book about the world of concentration camps. These situations do not have the futile aim of having the last word about Jean-Luc Nancy, nor do they offer a systematic vision of a thought that is, at last, crystal clear. Instead, by showing the philosopher in the diversity of real situations, the film paints a portrait in real time of thought’s capacity to react to the world. And seize hold of it. (N.L.)

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Technical sheet

France / 2020 / Color and B&W / HDCAM, Stereo / 83’

Original version : French.
Script : Simone Fluhr.
Photography : Simone Fluhr.
Editing : Simone Fluhr.
Son : Daniel Coche.
Casting : Jean-Luc Nancy.
Production : Dora Films (Daniel Coche).
Distribution : Dora Films (Daniel Coche).