Well, it’s Thursday, tonight’s movie night! Evening approximates… So here’ »Saute ma ville« (»Bomb Up My Town«) by Chantal Akerman.
When I was 18 I lived in a world, where notions didn’t exist, or merely existed intuitively or immediately. I only had the desire for playing football or computer games as soon as a school day was over, or just listening to music or watching TV. But there are other 18 year old boys and girls who, so it seems, never were teenagers, but took a straight leap from childhood into being a grown-up.
Take for instance Chantal Akerman. When she was 18 she shot »Saute ma ville«, a short film of just 12 minutes. But those 12 minutes gave her a place under the grandees of the director’s guild. For the fact is that »Saute ma ville« is said to be one of the central (short) works of the 20th century. And it is still be shown in film academies. Which means quite simply: It is a masterpiece!
Gérard Courant says, that it is a bold film, almost megalomaniac. Not only because of its unconcerned breaking of traditional filming rules, but also because it is shot on 35 mm which is the working material of the “established” directors, but surely not for an 18 year old rookie.
Janet Bergstrom describes the history of the film. After shooting it the film was stocked in a laboratory for two years, because Chantal Akerman didn’t had the money to release it and because she was so unsure about its value. In 1970 the laboratory manager asked her to pick it up. So she asked him to watch it and give his opinion. That was how the stone started to roll. He was convinced of it, and he had connections…
Akerman’s subsequent cinematic milestone was »Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles«. Other famous, more mainstream, movies of her are »Un divan à New York« (»A Couch in New York«) and »La captive« (»The Captive«) – I think, those are two interesting films, although I quite prefer »La captive«.
Finally, let me spend some words on »Saute ma ville«. I am especially fascinated by the construction of sounds. You hear a girl singing and humming, but you don’t see her. So it feels like, as if you’re in her head. It sounds cheerfully, especially with the bouquet in her hands, although the building doesn’t look quite inviting. However, I was expecting good things to come, not knowing – when seeing the film for the first time – that “saute ma ville” means “bomb up my town”. Whatever, the way the film continues made me feel secure. But then it starts: first unsettling actions, then really disturbing actions, subsequently sounds thrown into turmoil. What the fuck!? She seems to be going crazy. Isn’t she? Well, I can’t say. At last, the sound of gas streaming out. In the end a black screen, the explosion. Saute ma ville!?