12 November 2021

Luc Moullet's Barres (1984)

(In September of this year, 2021, the Cinémathèque française showed a number of films by the almost forgotten Luc Moullet, who at the age of eighty-four is still very much alive. When the daily paper Libération interviewed him, living on the fifth floor of a block of flats, he said he's horrified of lifts, and measures the state of a visitor's health by counting the minutes between their initial intercom ring and the time they arrive at his door. In another article in the same paper, Moullet says "I'm not a very normal person. I always live a little at the side of reality". (My translation, and I shall continue to include this paragraph in any further posts on Mouillet as they are not only an introduction to his work, but also (surely) strong indications of an Asperger element.))

I remember a few years ago that my partner Penny got through the barres at La Défense to take the tram to Porte d'Orléans by getting up really close (as one) to an unknown but sympathetic guy and me laughing when they both got out. That caused a controller to grab Penny's Navigo, and although I said 'C'est valable, mais...' he turned to me and said 'Mais ?', to which I retorted 'Elle l'a fait deux fois'. Response, on checking his machine: 'Ah, elle l'a fait deux fois !', and handed back the Navigo to Penny's impunity: but use the card twice and you aren't allowed re-entrance for a short time. Not having used the Paris métro for three years this may have changed, but it is certainly an indication of the trouble some people (including the French) have getting around Paris. Now there are no tickets, I wonder if the system has changed for the better, although I very much doubt it. it: for many less frequent users, the carnet was a way of not exactly life but a way around Paris.

But what of those, rich or poor, who regularly don't pay on the métro, those who jump over the bars, crawl under them, find numerous ingenious methods to dodge the system, use an elaborate way to get onto a train free of charge? What about the anarchists? This film is about them, and of course is completely absurd, as intended.

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