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Les hautes solitudes

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1974

Les Hautes Solitudes is an epitome of French avant-garde cinema from the 1970s. Directed by the renowned Philippe Garrel, the movie is a film with no dialogue and is mainly characterized by its insightful narrative technique. It features contrasts, often intentional, between light and shadow, focus and blur, movement and stillness. The film stars the talented actress Jean Seberg in what is essentially a solo performance, with brief appearances from the underground rock singer Nico, and actress Tina Aumont.

The film draws from the tradition of the silent movie but brings it into contemporary filmmaking style. The director operates in the realm of visual expression, and he relies on the quality of pure image and the rhythm of the editing to convey the emotions and ideas. Les Hautes Solitudes is a portrait, unspoken and silenced, of the central character who is fundamentally alone and lost in their thoughts.

The movie opens up with the face of Jean Seberg, an actor who was part of the Nouvelle Vague movement in France and rose to fame with Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless. The actress herself had a tragic and troubled life, which resonates with the scenes of the movie. The story revolves around Seberg, and she, with her captivating screen presence, manages to engage the audience without language.

The movie is a collection of scenes of Jean's ordinary routines and her emotional life, both public and private. Through her facial expressions, we come to understand her mournful silence, loneliness, and melancholy. She is pictured sleeping, smoking, staring blankly, and sometimes doing nothing in particular, always in a somber mood.

Despite being primarily a study of Seberg, there are also moments in the film where Nico and Tina Aumont make an appearance. Nico, the German singer, songwriter, musician, and model known for her work with The Velvet Underground, brings an exceptional aesthetic that complements the movie's artistic and experimental nature. Meanwhile, Tina Aumont's fleeting appearances give the film a touch of contrast.

The cinematic style of Les Hautes Solitudes is perhaps its most remarkable aspect. Garrel decided not to use any soundtrack, dialogue, or subtitles, leaving the audience with the raw essence of the visuals. This choice adds to the film's surreal and dream-like quality. The sequence of scenes play out like a photographic pictorial, with Seberg's face taking center stage, showing her various emotions.

The movie uses black and white 35mm film, a common technique of the era to express raw emotions. Garrel also utilizes close-ups to create intense screen moments, emphasizing the isolation and introspection of Seberg's character. Furthermore, the filmmaker's use of natural light contributes to the poignant atmosphere of the film.

However, Les Hautes Solitudes is not a movie for everyone, especially those accustomed to narratives full of dialogues and action sequences. It requires patience and an open mind because of the unconventional filming method. The film invites its viewers to interpret the character's mental state, emotions, and motivations through a visual exploration. It’s a deep dive into the psyche of an individual rather than a traditional narrative storytelling.

As a film, Les Hautes Solitudes offers a clear demonstration of Philippe Garrel's unique filmmaking style. There are no embellishments, no ornamentation, no extras- just the raw image, unadulterated and pristine. This film is a pure object of visual art, a moving tableau of human silence, solitude, and emotion.

More than just a silent film, Les Hautes Solitudes is a contemplative piece about the human condition, a masterpiece in its portrayal of isolation and introspection. It reflects the title itself- a high solitude, a solitude that is raw and unfiltered, poignantly caught on camera.

In conclusion, Les Hautes Solitudes is an extraordinary cinematic experience, a testament to the power of silent visual storytelling. It is an invitation to experience cinema in its purest form, a silent meditation on the nature of solitude and the human psyche.

Les hautes solitudes is a Documentary movie released in 1974. It has a runtime of 80 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.7..

6.7/10
Director
Philippe Garrel
Stars
Jean Seberg, Nico, Tina Aumont
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