Les Invasions Barbares
Denys Arcand :: Canada :: 2003 :: 1h39 :: 2 Oct. 2003
We are presented with a picture of an idyllic death. In an era of post-ideology a man reaches his end. Thanks to a loving wife and a strong son, he does not die alone, but is surrounded by his friends. As any movie dealing with death, it is inevitable to be moralistic, to pose the big questions. The ‘what is really important’ question is shown through the contrast between the old promiscuous bon vivant professor and his City lifestyle, gentlemanly son. Similarly, his friends are contrasted with the youth.
It is hard to do justice to such a complex and masterfully made film. It is not only subdivided into ‘chapters’ but also into layers, leaving you with a matrix still to be untangled. We find threads of moral questions about the role of reason, ideology, of love, technology, and of the ‘choices’ of roles in society. We are shown a world in which the family members are spread out across the globe, and communicate as if they are neighbours – if they so desire. And that suffix, of course, is the crux.
As the chapters pass, each time the image fades out and back in again, each time as if it was your last breath. The emphasis on the in-determinability of your own death is contrasted with the determination to control, our lives and certainly our death. The son, who to some extend plays the main character even if it is not him who is dying, is the emblem of control. He has turned his video-playing youth into successful stock market playing adulthood. He has an unscrupulous instrumental vision of the world, even if he is not insensitive.
Verdict: complex, beautiful and funny movie, well worth seeing. You could consider the DVD though, so that you can pause it – it is rather packed to the rim. (Perhaps for the Canadian accent as well, should you be unaccustomed.)