20 December 2021

Barbet Schroeder's La Vallée | Obscured by Clouds (1972)

Barbet Schoeder's second feature again concerns hippies, this time in search of an unmapped valley in Papua Nuew Guinea 'obscured by clouds'. And again it has the music of Pink Floyd. Viviane (Bulle Ogier) is a diplomat's wife in search of rare exotic bird feathers who by chance meets Olivier (Michael Gothard) who's living in a tent with a few other hippies, notably Gaëtan (Jean-Pierre Kalfon), who's would be the leader if hippies believed in leaders. So she decides to join them. Their long trail leads to Viviane learning how to conquer jealousy and learn about free love; a friendly encounter with the Mapuga tribe and a gruesome pig-battering sequence; travel by jeep, then horseback, and finishing on foot. The photography is beautiful, the psychological relationships very believable, although I couldn't help but wonder if Olivier had been right: weren't they just tourists? OK, they reached the valley, but had it really been worth the effort?

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