Crickets, beauty and Albert Serra

The film ‘La mort de Louis XIV’ [The Death of Louis XIV] (2016) by Albert Serra has received the prestigious award Jean Vigo. This film brings together Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais or Claude Chabrol. Louis XIV, lying in his royal bed, walks slowly towards death, once again, in a suspended transition

Albert Serra recalls that Dalí would get moved by the silent movies star Harry Langdon, on account of his capacity of being an “involuntary life”. Serra reminds us that Dalí wrote that Harry is the involuntary, pure life, a small entity that moves even more unconsciously than small animals; it moves just like beans come out of their pods, on their own. By comparison —according to Dalí— Keaton is a mystic and Chaplin rots. Albert Serra (Banyoles, 1975) is a cinema director who has received some international on account of an unusual artistic proposal through a stubborn identity offering, among other recurrent elements, work with non-professional actors without a script. In other words, non-actors who do not perform.

“This is why I like non-professional actors so much”, Serra says: “They are not aware of themselves; their reactions and movements are pure chemical reactions to one stimulus, no reflection involved”. The camera, sometimes hidden in the vegetation, shoots these non-actors as if someone was spying on them. This is what happens in Honor de cavalleria [Honour of Chivalry] gathered in Cahiers du Cinéma as one of the best 2006 films. He received the Fipresci Award at the Biennale, 2006; the Award Barcelona de Cinema 2006. This was the author’s first feature movie with a minimum of organization, where Don Quixote and Sancho appear, suddenly, wandering through the fields, on their way to an unknown destination. Its landscape is a shallow sound, that of treaded-on serfs, the dreamy clanking of the suit of armour of the Quixote, the shrieking of the sword, the snorting of the horse, the glittering sound of the river and the leaves, and the crickets.

Crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas in feverish dialogue, chatting in an environment of a powerful resounding hyperrealist framework, a lush volume for Serra’s movies. Tangible nature in conversation through disproportionately quiet and shady shots. Suddenly we feel this is an orchestra without a conductor, abandoned in a maze of indistinguishable sounds with no purpose whatsoever. And, all of a sudden, we could adapt our disposition as spectators to the frequency of his notes and length, to his scheme and finally his music: the unexpected beauty of this chaos has a tendency to create.

El cant dels ocells [Song of the Birds] received the Grand Prix of the Jury to the Best Feature Film at the Entrevues Festival 2008, Belfort; Grand Prix to the Best Feature Film at the Split Film Festival 2008; awards to the Best Feature Film in Original Version, Best Director and Best Photography at the Gaudí Awards 2009. The Three Wise Men, on a suspended transit, roaming through the resounding boundaries of thickness and quietness, light and shadow, like ideas fighting and overlapping. The bareness of the dialogues suggested by Serra contrast with the voluptuousness of the vegetable, animal and mineral chitchat of a savage territory, also in a circular transit between day and night, between Giacomo Casanova and count Dracula, sickled by unexpected gusts of wind that impose silence over excessive noise, like a shout.

In Història de la meva mort [My Death’s Story] —Pardo d’Oro Award to the Best Feature Film, Locarno Film Festival 2013—, Casanova savours a pomegranate with resounding gusto and delight. Crushing the fruit torn by teeth and lips sucking its juice. Mastication sets the pace of the scene and the swallowing opens up a space for a word, limited but concise and to the point. The desire with which it is devoured and devours. The journey of Casanova to his death in the dark lands domineered by Dracula. “This is reality”, says Casanova. “The smell of blood”, answers his servant. Blood which, in the forested sunset of Transylvania smells of a syncopate drip on the grass, of guts sizzling inside the fire, of the cricket singing feverishly. And the crickets are the lords of the sunset, with their chant of involuntary life, purely organic. Albert Serra’s cinema, says Pere Gimferrer, “explores the transitional areas between light and darkness”. And it is in this twilight region, “in the literal and metaphorical sense of the word, where Albert Serra’s characters live”. This is why the crickets sing in the twilight of Louis XVI, the Sun King, and give way to the night, the long night that awaits him. The Death of Louis XIV (2016), soon to be released in Spanish theatres, has earned Serra the prestigious award Jean Vigo, which brings him closer to Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais or Claude Chabrol. Louis XIV, lying in his royal bed, makes his journey, slowly, to death, once more, a suspended transit. In this, so far, last film of Serra, again his characters become gigantic cultural myths, and offers an objective account of the cricket, in an attempt to bring beauty to chaos, a “pure fantasy through elements that are extremely realistic, even indomitable, feral”, as described by Albert Serra himself.

Crickets, beauty and Albert Serra

The film ‘La mort de Louis XIV’ [The Death of Louis XIV] (2016) by Albert Serra has received the prestigious award Jean Vigo. This film brings together Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais or Claude Chabrol. Louis XIV, lying in his royal bed, walks slowly towards death, once again, in a suspended transition

Albert Serra recalls that Dalí would get moved by the silent movies star Harry Langdon, on account of his capacity of being an “involuntary life”. Serra reminds us that Dalí wrote that Harry is the involuntary, pure life, a small entity that moves even more unconsciously than small animals; it moves just like beans come out of their pods, on their own. By comparison —according to Dalí— Keaton is a mystic and Chaplin rots. Albert Serra (Banyoles, 1975) is a cinema director who has received some international on account of an unusual artistic proposal through a stubborn identity offering, among other recurrent elements, work with non-professional actors without a script. In other words, non-actors who do not perform.

“This is why I like non-professional actors so much”, Serra says: “They are not aware of themselves; their reactions and movements are pure chemical reactions to one stimulus, no reflection involved”. The camera, sometimes hidden in the vegetation, shoots these non-actors as if someone was spying on them. This is what happens in Honor de cavalleria [Honour of Chivalry] gathered in Cahiers du Cinéma as one of the best 2006 films. He received the Fipresci Award at the Biennale, 2006; the Award Barcelona de Cinema 2006. This was the author’s first feature movie with a minimum of organization, where Don Quixote and Sancho appear, suddenly, wandering through the fields, on their way to an unknown destination. Its landscape is a shallow sound, that of treaded-on serfs, the dreamy clanking of the suit of armour of the Quixote, the shrieking of the sword, the snorting of the horse, the glittering sound of the river and the leaves, and the crickets.

Crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas in feverish dialogue, chatting in an environment of a powerful resounding hyperrealist framework, a lush volume for Serra’s movies. Tangible nature in conversation through disproportionately quiet and shady shots. Suddenly we feel this is an orchestra without a conductor, abandoned in a maze of indistinguishable sounds with no purpose whatsoever. And, all of a sudden, we could adapt our disposition as spectators to the frequency of his notes and length, to his scheme and finally his music: the unexpected beauty of this chaos has a tendency to create.

El cant dels ocells [Song of the Birds] received the Grand Prix of the Jury to the Best Feature Film at the Entrevues Festival 2008, Belfort; Grand Prix to the Best Feature Film at the Split Film Festival 2008; awards to the Best Feature Film in Original Version, Best Director and Best Photography at the Gaudí Awards 2009. The Three Wise Men, on a suspended transit, roaming through the resounding boundaries of thickness and quietness, light and shadow, like ideas fighting and overlapping. The bareness of the dialogues suggested by Serra contrast with the voluptuousness of the vegetable, animal and mineral chitchat of a savage territory, also in a circular transit between day and night, between Giacomo Casanova and count Dracula, sickled by unexpected gusts of wind that impose silence over excessive noise, like a shout.

In Història de la meva mort [My Death’s Story] —Pardo d’Oro Award to the Best Feature Film, Locarno Film Festival 2013—, Casanova savours a pomegranate with resounding gusto and delight. Crushing the fruit torn by teeth and lips sucking its juice. Mastication sets the pace of the scene and the swallowing opens up a space for a word, limited but concise and to the point. The desire with which it is devoured and devours. The journey of Casanova to his death in the dark lands domineered by Dracula. “This is reality”, says Casanova. “The smell of blood”, answers his servant. Blood which, in the forested sunset of Transylvania smells of a syncopate drip on the grass, of guts sizzling inside the fire, of the cricket singing feverishly. And the crickets are the lords of the sunset, with their chant of involuntary life, purely organic. Albert Serra’s cinema, says Pere Gimferrer, “explores the transitional areas between light and darkness”. And it is in this twilight region, “in the literal and metaphorical sense of the word, where Albert Serra’s characters live”. This is why the crickets sing in the twilight of Louis XVI, the Sun King, and give way to the night, the long night that awaits him. The Death of Louis XIV (2016), soon to be released in Spanish theatres, has earned Serra the prestigious award Jean Vigo, which brings him closer to Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais or Claude Chabrol. Louis XIV, lying in his royal bed, makes his journey, slowly, to death, once more, a suspended transit. In this, so far, last film of Serra, again his characters become gigantic cultural myths, and offers an objective account of the cricket, in an attempt to bring beauty to chaos, a “pure fantasy through elements that are extremely realistic, even indomitable, feral”, as described by Albert Serra himself.