New version of Herqueville

The Herqueville project went through significant changes over the last weeks. Tentatively, it now has a new title Herqueville ou l’éblouissement d’Icare. I translated it by Herqueville or Icarius Dazzled. This is not a very good translation I think but a better one will come soon. When I resumed working on the film after my week and a half of holidays, I did a number of small detailed adjustments and additions to the animation, mostly without big consequences other then improved, more balanced fluidity. But there was one major development that has to do with the change of title. The more I had progressed in the making of the film, the more I was interested by one verse of one poem that referred to the fall of Icarus.

In the first animated version, just before I took my week off, the ending of the film with a bird suddently falling down in the sea consciously responded to that reference to Icarius in the poems. It also responded to the presence of seagulls in a shot at the beginning of the film, just after the credits. I thought this was a good idea but I was not happy with the way I had developed it. The relationships , on the one hand, between the seagulls at the beginning and the falling bird at the end, and on the other hand, between the falling bird and the mention of Icarus in the poem, were too far fetched to generate a meaning. I already had the idea that sound editing could help make this legible. But it quickly came to me that to be effective and also to give a chance to sound editing to establish itself, this “Icarus” idea had to be more developed.

What primarily interested me was the fact that “Icarus flying up to the sun with its artificial wings, getting burnt and falling back in the sea” was a nice metaphor of mankind arrogance, excessive confidence and lack of prudence in handling technology to intervene with the very structure of matter and life, like it is the case with nuclear energy. “Éblouissement” has to do with burning but also, and maybe more, with being blinded. So I thought that was a strong image. And I like the fact that it does relate to the question of mankind, technology and nature in a wider sense than just for or against nuclear energy. This is now a bit of a problem in the film. People who saw it tends to interpret the little text at the end of the film as a militant statement against nuclear energy. Strictly it is a very factual statement about what this plant we see in the film is and where it is situated. Of course the contrast between “beautiful nature” and “ugly industry” appears overwhelming and can be easily interpreted as a denunciation. I guess this is part of the film. But for me both are still and apparently quiet images of a roaring underlying chaos, both have to do with the slow destructive action of architectonic forces. The vitrified nuclear wastes buried deep into the rocks of the La Hage peninsula become part of the long term action of the architectonic forces. How can I make this clear? or Does it have to be spelled out clearly? This is not a film with a message. The core of it is a meditation on a specific place which happens to contain those two elements, it is about poetry (in the wider sense of the term, including writing, prints and film) arrising in this specific situation. So Icarus can both represent mankind in its techno-scientific effort to master the forces of nature and the poet trying to fit itself in this conflicting context. Both undertakings meet their limit at one point.

Enough about my intentions and back to the film. As I said, one way of drawing more attention to the beginning and end birds was to underline them with sound, but in order to have the sound of seagulls present in a more or less continuous way through the film, I needed to develop the visual presence of birds throughout the film. So I added three segments of birds toward the center of the film, in the section right after where the verse “Éblouissement d’Icare” comes in and in direct relationship with the swirls of water around riffs on the sea shore. Those riffs are quickly extracted from their naturalistic context to become a leitmotiv evement throughout the end of the film, always composited over prints as if it was happening deep under the ground. For me it does stand for the primeval fire burning deep inside of matter. So those visual elements will also have to be associated to sounds that will stress their metaphoric character. So the birds and the swirls will be the center point of sound editing. Later in the film, I have animated references to the birds within the convulsive animated shapes that come in at the climax of the film. This will allow for more transformations in the sounds of dirds.

This means that a lot of the new animation I made has to do with alowing for sound editing and it will finally be validated or unvalidated by the results of sound editing. This will be the subject of the following post. This Monday, I had my first meeting with Claude Beaugrand to begin this new phase of the production.

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