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Dans la ville blanche (1982)

Alain Tanner, Switzerland

Paul, a ships's mechanic on a cargo boat, goes ashore one day in Lisbon and makes the acquaintance of loneliness, of keeping silence, and of Rosa, a barmaid. A three-sided relationship develops between Paul, Rosa and Elisa, Paul's wife, who lives in a town on the Rhine. All of Pauls' money is stolen, he follows the tracks of the thief and gets stabbed. Nevertheless, an in spite of Rosa's departure and the distance that separates him from Elisa, Paul gradually recovers.

Duration
109 minutes
Language
OV French
Subtitles
German, French, English, Italian
Video Quality
1080p
Available in
Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein
Alain Tanner
Une ville à Chandigarh (1965)
Alain Tanner
India
53′
When, in 1947, a portion of Punjab province was assigned to the newly created Pakistani State, Albert Mayer began planning a new capital for the portion which remained in the possession of India. Le Corbusier had been responsible since the 1950s for general planning and, more particularly, for large-scale buildings typical of the governmental sector. A year after the death of Le Corbusier, Alain Tanner began shooting his film in a city still partially under construction, or even, in certain places, at the planning stage. The inhabitants of the metropolis, however, already numbered some 120,000. Among the most modern of cities architecturally, Chandigarh was archaically constructed by hand. Impressions of this green horizontal city-brick not permitting vertical development-are captured in long static shots and numerous traveling shots. John Berger's commentary inscribes the visual beauty of that reality within a larger reflection: climate did strongly influence the decisions of the planners, whereas the new city did not succeed in breaking the old social rules with a single blow. These rules continue to determine the level of education and income, and it is not even possible for these workers who are in the process of constructing Chandigarh to live in it themselves. However, the film partakes of Le Corbusier's optimism in its appreciation of architecture as an instrument aiding men to clarify their visions, to exercise their powers of discernment and to establish new relations, even if the results will only make themselves felt in the long term.
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La Salamandre (1971)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
114′
Rosemonde the Salamander is a young girl who gets by thanks to low-paid jobs of all kinds. She is suspected of attempting to kill the uncle with whom she lives. A journalist and a writer are hired to get to the bottom of this mystery, as the basis for a television film scenario. They are unsuccessful however. The truth about Rosemonde and her special appreciation of life continue to elude these two amateur detectives.
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Charles mort ou vif (1969)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
91′
The film paints the portrait of an old man who decides to abandon his comfortable bourgeois way of life and live with a Bohemian couple. There he rediscovers his freedom to think and his joie de vivre.
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Messidor (1979)
Alain Tanner
Switzerland
123′
Project initially entrusted to Maurice Pialat, who had already begun to film it under the title of “Meurtrières” (see the special edition of Les Inrockuptibles devoted to Pialat), Messidor is based on a crime story which hit the headlines in France in the 1970s: two adolescent girls run away and go on a criminal spree which ends in their deaths. On the face of it, this subject is remote from the world we associate with Tanner, since a violent story of this kind and its social background would seem to impose the realistic, even naturalistic form always shunned by the Swiss director. Moreover, Tanner is instinctively averse to filming physical violence. “Killing a person”, he says, “is generally a gratuitous special effect.” Consequently, of all Tanner’s films Messidor is the only one in which someone dies of non-natural causes. It is also Tanner’s most sombre work, characterised by a despair unmitigated by his usual verbal and situational humour. This is because Tanner accepted the project only on condition that he could recast the original idea and use this violent story as a vehicle for more personal preoccupations: the limits of freedom (already treated in his previous film) are here related to the girls’ frantic flight in the Swiss countryside. What interests him is the possible sullying of this place of excessive peace and quiet, now transformed into a field of experience and criminal fun-and-games by the two characters..
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