Monday, May 20, 2013

Orphic Finality: vous n'avez encore rien vu

A celebrated film maker of advanced years produces a film adaptation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, and observers quickly surmise that this is the director's "final film." How do they know that it's not merely the "most recent"? He's still working, after all.

Alain Resnais' Vous N'avez Encore Rien Vu (2012 = You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet) adapts two Anouilh plays, particularly Eurydice. The film competed for but did not with the 2012 Cannes Palme d'Or, and will be released in American art-house theatres in June 2013. My friend Will Brockliss saw that it was showing at the University of Wisconsin student union and drew my attention to it. I hope to know more about it.

Leslie Nesselson's review at insightfully scrutinizes the critics' hasty assignment of the term "final film" to Resnais' most recent narrative. She wryly notes that Resnais is working on his next film already. Though significantly advanced in years, Resnais may or may not have left his Orphic film as his last piece. If she's right, and Resnais produces something further beyond this Orpheus, then we won't ultimately be able to note how Orpheus narratives seem to cap artists' collected ouevres.

The summary of Vous N'avez Encore Rien Vu:

From beyond the grave, celebrated playwright Antoine d'Anthac gathers together all his friends who have appeared over the years in his play "Eurydice." These actors watch a recording of the work performed by a young acting company, La Compagnie de la Colombe. Do love, life, death and love after death still have any place on a theater stage? It's up to them to decide. And the surprises have only just begun...
The fictious playwright in this premise clearly has that Orphic role of immortal artist. Presumably, in an autobiographical claim, Resnais is making himself an Orpheus. His use of the Eurydice myth is clearly a smoking-gun reference that pins the narrative to mythological shorthand. When I see the film, I'll be watching with great interest for value the new narrative can add to the familiar myth. Nesselson has convinced me that there's much about Resnais' allusiveness I will not be able to appreciate — like his intertextual references to his entire cinematic corpus. But I hope to be able to appreciate the director's adaptation of the myth itself.

This post is obviously a place-holder in which I hope merely to indicate awareness of a mythological narrative that seems likely to warrant further and deeper investigation. Comments are welcome.