Archive for Haut Bas Fragile

On second thoughts, leave it on his shoulders.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on November 30, 2008 by dcairns


Alfredo Garcia rears his ugly head in HAUT BAS FRAGILE.

I started watching a not-entirely-perfect DVD of Jaques Rivette’s 1995 musical-mystery HAUT BAS FRAGILE, and noticed a strange effect. At various points the action would sllloooow doooowwwnn, then abruptlyspeedupagain, as if it had fallen behind and needed to catch up. My first two theories were that (1) the film had been shot on elastic instead of celluloid or (2) Rivette had been possessed by the wandering shade of Zak Snyder.

Then I decided the disc had come from a faulty original of some kind, and while the soundtrack seemed to run at a consistent speed, the picture would periodically lose synch and then snap back into place. It’s not a phenomenon I’ve ever observed before.

Rivette — always the innovator.

Doing my best to ignore the abrupt decelerations and accelerations of the cast, I was then surprised and delighted to find a character called Alfredo Garcia, in tribute to Peckinpah, the master of slomo. It seemed like fate was at work. Then, to my further delight and under the influence of M. Garcia, the plot dovetailed briefly into Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Suicide Club. Since I’ve nothing better to do (apart from nod to the presence of screen goddess Anna Karina in this elegant and unusual movie), I’ll quote you my favourite bit from the book ~

“You say truly that you are in the dark,” remarked Mr. Malthus with more animation. “Why, my dear sir, this club is the temple of intoxication. If my enfeebled health could support the excitement more often, you may depend upon it I should be more often here. It requires all the sense of duty engendered by a long habit of ill health and careful regimen to keep me from excess in this, which is, I may say, my dissipation. I have tried them all, sir,” he went on, laying his hand on Geraldine’s arm, “all without exception, and I declare to you, upon my honour, there is not one of them that has not been grossly and untruthfully over-rated. People trifle with love. Now, I deny that love is a strong passion. Fear is the strong passion; it is with fear that you must trifle, if you wish to taste the intensest joys of living. Envy me — envy me, sir,” he added with a chuckle. “I am a coward.”


Digital camera goes wonky in presence of wonky DVD playing on TV.