SOCIETY: Simon Beaulieu's untraditional film seeks to convey the multitude of anxieties experienced in the modern world.
Aleksandra Biernacka
She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: November 12, 2019

Arising out of 21st century sensitivity, converging techno-culture and computer games’ first-person perspective with phenomenological exploration of current every-day existence, Le Fond de l’air creates a formally innovative, immersive picture that stirs numerous fundamental questions, not only those directly asked in film, but also others concerning the future, borders, and goals of documentary genre itself. The film’s dominant black & white poetics, merging a cascade of images with symphonic music and moments of silence, remind us of the early 20th century roots of cinema, like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, but re-define them from our nowadays point of view in an attempt to arrive at a new, internally altered dimension of the century-old Dziga Vertov’s Cine-Eye concept.

Le fond de l’air, a fim by Simon Beaulieu

The cruel century

Initial montage of images edited to the rhythm of overwhelming techno music and punctuated by blinding lights introduces a mental space in which fragments of the cruel 20th century’s political history interlace with people’s personal memories; micro and macro views forming a spectrum of consciousness. It is rapidly disrupted and ended by the appearance of a frightening figure in a transparent mask, which hardens and blurs his facial features at the same time. The man reappears throughout the film as if an ominous sign of danger; of being overpowered by «the man without qualities.»

First-person shots follow the every-day activities of different people, from waking up, to commuting to work, preparing dinner, going for a walk. Peaceful and ordered, big-city neighbourhoods, office and factory spaces, networked and interactive houses seem to contradict the repeating snippets of intellectual, expert media discussions on impending doom. Intense, heightened accounts on environmental disasters caused by man, like excessive carbon emissions, or massive extinction of species, lead to pictures vast amounts of unneeded and redundant products. The growing volume of voices calling for fundamental change to …

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