Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Where was I?

There's a beautiful and terrifying short film I found online, directed by Claude Lelouch: the camera's mounted on a car careening through the streets of Paris, stirring in the first gray rays of dawn, August 1976. The sun in fact appears to rise over this joyride: it's a bit dark as the driver enters the Porte Dauphine and devours the avenue to the Arc de Triomphe; there are only a few cars on the roundabout, a few sagely navigating cobblestoned streets. Delivery men in their modest Renault trucks, market people, shop people going where they go at such an hour. And the car passes them angrily, snarling. Dodging and feinting, darting between them and the sidewalk, skidding around islands, past abutments, perilously close to knock-kneed ladies with their shopping bags and dogs. Every red light is unflinchingly burned. The engine shifts in lusty, curious growls. What's around this corner? What's down that street? A flash of neon from a cafe sign amidst the venerable facades. The car brings furious life and light into the city, and yet you sense it isn't out of place. It's of a piece with this weary, violent and sultry place.