Heddy Honigmann

The Netherlands, 2006, 95 min.

Heddy Honigmann visits some of the famous graves at Père Lachaise, but also walks around to meet people, talk to them, find and sometimes follow their stories, conveying them to us – so that by the time the film is over you feel content and in a good reflective mood.

Like I have done so many times myself when I have visited Père Lachaise in Paris, she starts by wandering from place to place, looking at the gravestones but mostly at the people, who are either walking around like you are, merely visiting, or occupied by watering flowers, cleaning the burial plots or taking photos (like you do, too) in front of the grave of Jim Morrison. But then Honigmann demonstrates why she is regarded as one of the most interesting documentary makers of our time. From the impressionistic glimpses of the cemetery, she delves deeper to stress that this film is not a touristy trip but something different.

She meets a young Japanese woman in front of the grave of Frédéric Chopin. The woman declares her love for music and tells us why Chopin is so painfully close to her heart. Honigmann leaves the cemetery to give us more information about the woman and makes her return to the film to sit behind the piano. Many of Honigmann’s characters return from time to time. The film has a loose structure that takes you from intense situations to scenes where you can relax. Honigmann creates the illusion that the characters are met again and again in this film, which, according to her, is about “the importance of Art in Life”.

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