Manuela Morgaine: The Missing Link Between Contemporaneity and Myth

We are republishing also in English this 2015 interview with Manuela Morgaine in honor of her being awarded the Ex-Aequo Prize for Best Feature at the “Detour on the Road Festival” in Rome for the movie ANOTHER WORLD – those who come by sea (2016).

This interview was originally conducted for that year’s screening of Lightning, in collaboration with Artdigiland. With a four-hour runtime Lightning is something of a “monster.” It is a probing and poetic look at the natural phenomena and legends surrounding lightning, and its relationship to human energy, love, Eros, melancholy, healing and dance.

Interview conducted by Silvia Tarquini, in collaboration with Alessandro Poggiani
English translation :
David H. Pickering


Before Lightning you were involved in the theater, literature, and visual arts...

I had been a writer for many years. I ran a theater company that I still perform with today. I have since become a visual artist as well. I often work for the French public radio station France Culture, so my work has always involved the spoken and written word, images, language, and even sculpture, which has a very special place in my heart. Lightning may also come from an attempt to combine all of these art forms which, in my view, speak in too insular a fashion. I was looking for a form of “total art” in the Wagnerian sense of the term. In cinema, you can combine music, opera and theater, you can write, create images, and perform—you can do anything. You can even do radio... I put the entire soundtrack of Lightning together at the radio station, where friends allowed me to record professionally, since I couldn’t afford to bring a sound engineer along on the shoot. It was just me and my camera: all of the sound was recorded in post. Lightning contains all these forms which I had come into contact with over the course of the previous years.

How do you approach moviemaking? What did your early attempts look like?

I have directed nine films. The first one, Posthumes,  was based on a text by Marcel Schwob, a little-known French writer. It was a 16mm cinematic poem in black and white, which dates from 1994, when I was in residence at the Villa Medicis. Afterwards I directed Va, an ambitious twenty-two minute homage to Casanova’s escape from the Leads Prison in Venice. Parts of it were silent and parts of it accompanied by a live Foley artist with his back to the audience. It was a film concert. After that, there was A l’Ouest - on the Wild Side, a journey through the western United States. Then came a very long ninety-four minute documentary entitled Si une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps, laquelle? (If one swallow does not a spring make, then whom?) a Michel Foucault reference. It’s a film about oracles, which is a subject I have been working on for more than a dozen years based on one of my future performance pieces entitled Orakl. I have visited oracular spots all over the Mediterranean  ‒ Cumae in Italy, Didyma in Turkey, Delphi in Greece ‒ to try and understand why these of all places were chosen to deliver prophecies in.

What do they have in common?

I discovered that they’re all located on top of sulfur deposits. At one such spot, Cumaean Sibyl became dizzy from the mixture of sulfur smoke and herbs, and entered into a trance. In Didyma, in Asia Minor, sulfur and smoke seep out of the ground. Same thing at Delphi. These spots are highly charged. So I got interested in these myths about the earth, and this phenomenon of women who’d go into a trance and predict the future. I found all of this very interesting and theatrical, and I made a documentary about oracles in the Mediterranean. The film set me down the path of the performance piece Orakl. The cinema is always linked to the other arts.

Is there a link between your exploration of oracles and that of lightning?

The common thread is myth. Baal—the God Baal—Saturn, and all the old Gods are characters in Lightning. My interest in mythology comes from my passion for Pasolini, for Medea, for Herzog, and for all the directors who have worked with myth. I try to carry myth into modernity, to show that it is part of us, that we still need it. And I’m also passionate about the forces of nature, like sulfur or lighting. Lightning’s energy was of great interest to me because in lightning there is light. Light is at the origin of cinema. And origins are always of interest to me, the origins of things as well as phenomena.

Let’s talk about Lightning. Where did you get the idea for this project that later evolved into a three hour and 50-minute film?

The word “lightning” itself was a guide, a muse. In French, the word “foudre” is laden with meaning, we even say coup de foudre to mean “love at first sight” – as though love came like a bolt out of the blue.

It’s the same in Italian…

To me the word itself suggests a four-season structure, because lighting is part of nature. I had seen Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev which, though not structured in four seasons, does have four parts. I’m fascinated by the way Wagner built operas like Tristan und Isolde using a tetralogy to create something behemoth. And I’ve always loved the sheer scale of Herzog, Fellini, and Kusturica films. They are artists whose sense of duration sets them apart. I understood that what I was looking for was a form of cinematic excess. Hence the idea of the four parts. Sergei Parajanov and his structures which closely approximate nature were also an influence—so there you have your four seasons. Next, I selected a god for each season: for autumn, Baal, the Syrian god of lightning, a divinity closely associated with fertility, and a lightning hunter; Saturn personifies winter, a psychiatrist specialized in depression who harnesses the healing powers of electricity. For spring, I chose an amazing historical figure, Saint Simeon, who was struck by lightning on top of a free-standing column he had climbed upon as a hermit.

A stylite...

Yes, a hermit who sits on a column for forty years. While studying Simeon in Syria, I discovered the existence of Kama, Allah’s vegetable. But I don’t want to reveal the mystery of this magic truffle which grows in the desert once a year, in the springtime, wherever lightning has struck. I wanted summer to be about the “love-struck,” the powerful pulse of love between two human beings. Rather than just any man and woman, I wanted to talk about Adam and Eve, and Paradise. When I reread Marivaux’s The Dispute, I found it very summery, between the heat, the love and the voluptuousness. And Marivaux also allowed me to change centuries. Thanks to all of these legendary characters I could shift from one century to another, from the antiquity of Galen, the Syrian physician, to Marivaux—and from one country to another, from Guinea-Bissau, in Africa and a Kasara cult, which takes place in the current day, and then back to the era of Simeon the Stylite, to the 4th century BC. The sequence of seasons evokes eternity, the idea being to move freely through time, through various countries, populated by various characters, and with a common theme.

In your film the characters have a double identity, one contemporary and one mythical. The lightning hunter, Baal, is now a meteorologist and a DJ, the Stylite is an archeologist, Saturn is a psychiatrist… How did you manage the transition from one to the other?

I looked for elements that could signal transitions: cars, watches. Each character has a car, which brings the viewer into modern times. The lightning hunter’s car is very present at the beginning of the film; he drives down a modern-day highway, and at the same time he claims to be a god. Baal has a watch whose hands turn swiftly without ever stopping. He is played by the singer and composer Rodolphe Burger. Saturn also has a car, but he talks about the dugout canoe where he found himself in antiquity, and canoes are still around today. Shifting from one dimension to another allows us to create legends out of men who are alive today, who have a trade, and at the same time they embody the gods of lore. To conclude on the watches, Saturn’s has stopped at dusk, the time of day when we all go into depression, when daylight disappears. His time is the time of depression and melancholy; throughout the film his watch reads a quarter to seven, the witching hour. Indeed, I asked all of his patients; “What time of day do you feel the worst?” and they all answered: “At a quarter to seven.” The lightning chaser would always say to me: “You know, I never look at my watch, my heart races when I approach lightning.” So I had the idea of a watch that would run fast. To answer your question about Simeon, he is a real-life archeologist, not an actor. There are no professional actors in this film apart from Azor and Églé, the characters from Marivaux’s The Dispute. The actor who plays Simeon is an archeologist, so his watch runs backwards. He tries to go back in time. We see the hands turn counterclockwise. Meanwhile Azor, the “love-struck,” the lover, has the time of day drawn on his eye. He says that “love is a time out,” so time is fixed on his eye, it doesn’t move, because time ceases to exist when we are in love. Eglé has no watch, she is the only person not to have one, because she is a woman and when we women feel passion we willingly lose our minds and the notion of time.

Can you explain what “lightning hunter” means?

I thought it was a myth, but lightning hunter (or storm chaser) is a real profession and I know one. He works for the French weather service. In France, power providers call on him to try to predict where lightning may strike in a storm, so that they can repair power outages more quickly. So that’s how they work… I mean, it’s a real job. Almost nobody knows about it, but there are 22 in France.

What do they do exactly?

They are meteorologists, physicists, and often photography and video enthusiasts too. They go wherever lightning strikes to study it. They take photographs and films of it. People are more familiar with tornado chasers in the United States, they’re the best known, but there are at least 150 lightning chasers around the world. I think I chose the best one in France, Alex Hermant. It was he who shot the footage of lighting we see in the film – extraordinary footage. I only started production because I knew I could count on those images. I bought thirty years of Alex Hermant’s archives. There were lightning strikes of all kinds. To tell the story of Samy Haffaf for instance, who was struck by lightning at sea in Tunisia, I needed footage of lightning at sea. Naturally we spent a lot of time color grading the footage to lend a temporal unity to these archives which were shot over a thirty year period in many different media.

Can you tell us something about these archives?

This is a body of work created over thirty years by a single man. Alex Hermant is responsible for at least 15 to 20% of the footage in Lightning. He gave me permission to rework his footage. In the course of these thirty years as a lightning hunter, he used 25 different types of video cameras. The film’s opening, in which we see lightning through a car window, is entirely his—not a single frame of it belongs to me. We don’t see his face, but he’s the one driving. He invented a special mount for his video camera. He would drive for 20 or 30 hours at a time hoping to capture lightning. He is a brilliant artist. The postproduction process was very labor-intensive, we color corrected all the blacks to equalize them. Sometimes we created daylight where there had once been darkness. That alone took three or four years of work.

The opening sequence brings to mind David Lynch: the car driving at night, and the visuals more generally. The sequence has the beauty of a Lynch film, it packs a real visual punch. There’s something mysterious about it.

That’s exactly right, Lost Highway was a major influence. I reworked all the blacks in Alex Hermant’s footage, and I added light and modified the speed. This last aspect was very important, because he is driving very fast.

You can’t tell.

Because it’s dark.

Maybe it’s also because of your voice which conveys a meditative rhythm.

Yes, the voice and the music. The connection with the composers was fundamental. Without this musical connection, Lightning wouldn’t exist. The two composers worked with me for ten years: Philippe Langlois and Emmanuel Hosseyn During. For the Middle Eastern part, I worked with an Iranian composer, but all the electronic music was created using sounds of thunder, and remixed by Philippe Langlois.

Why was Baal played by the musician Rodolphe Burger, and not by Alex Hermant?

Because Alex Hermant, who had shot this amazing footage, didn’t want to appear in the film. I was looking for a gravelly, earthy voice, and I found Rodolphe Burger. He is an important rock musician and he could therefore become DJ Baal, and mix live music to go with the footage. We see him with his guitar at the end of the film. Meanwhile Alex Hermant “is” his images alone. He wanted to be present purely through his footage.

Burger’s voice is an extraordinary one… He is a musician and singer who manages to create a world through his voice.

The first composition is a remarkable one. A text about what not to do when lightning strikes. We did an improv on the radio. I started by giving Rodolphe examples so that he would know how to perform the text. Then, hearing our two voices combined, I thought a double voice, one female, another male, would come off to nice effect. At first, we weren’t supposed to hear my voice. But I figured that if we were going to hear it at the beginning anyway, along with the lightning hunter’s voice, it should appear later on too. It was supposed to be a guiding voice, which opens each season. So my voice is like a prologue for each season, a voice which guides the audience.

How did you write the film’s dialogue?

All of Lightning was scripted. It was scripted and re-scripted many times. The words spoken by Saturn, Baal, all the lightning victims and melancholy patients are their real words. I did interviews, like you’re doing yours, for hours, years, with each and every subject. I then transcribed them, and it was only much later that they were performed.

Did they rehearse the passages you chose? Were they capable of it?
Yes, because they weren’t acting in front of the camera. We were on the radio and they were performing their own words.

And afterwards, how did you assemble sound and images? In the film the lightning-struck speak, don’t they?
No, never.

They’re silent?

They never speak on film. In the film, only Azor and Églé speak in frame. There are no other words spoken.

Amazing! The way I remember it, they do speak. It feels like they are being interviewed.

No, everything is in voiceover. Above all, I knew that I couldn’t ask non-actors to pretend to be “struck by lightning” in front of the camera and speak at the same time. I thought that in the filmed footage their bodies should be completely free. They could dance, like the woman in the wheelchair… She was free to dance, to move around. During the shoot, their bodies were free, and afterwards, when they recorded their voices, they didn’t have anything else to think about.

Explain the scenes of the “lightning-struck.” You chose to have them reenact their experiences. Where did that idea come from?

While studying melancholy, I visited several clinics and asked to sit in on various treatment methods. Initially I went without a camera, just to watch. One of the treatments consisted of what’s called “rewind technique” for people who have experienced major trauma, a plane crash, a war. There were people who had seen their loved-ones jump out the window: brutal shocks. To cure these traumas – which continued to haunt their minds daily like recurring nightmares – there is a method which consists of asking them to act out the traumatic scene, to think about all of their movements. It’s the opposite of what their family often tells them, which is to “put it behind them and move on.” On the one hand trauma victims are asked by the medical team to remember as many details as possible and are even brought to the site of the tragedy to reenact it; on the other hand they are asked by the family to forget it. Generally a catharsis happens. It’s a very powerful, very effective therapy. I also remember Ari Folman’s film Waltz with Bashir, which greatly impressed me. When he was a soldier in Israel, Folman saw terrible things in Sabra and Shatila, and he decided to make a film about his psychotherapy. So the material for the film was his own therapy. Inspired by the strength of that film, and of these therapy sessions – which I was allowed to attend  – I though it would be interesting to bring the “lighting-struck”  to the place where the accident happened to reenact or relive the scene. Then, using homemade special effects, I added the lightning. All the lightning strike scenes are repeated twice. That’s because, for the person who was traumatized, the scene is constantly repeated. I wanted to get across that sensation, the idea that that it was a scene they had relived every day of their lives. Living through a lightning strike may have meant feeling a tremendous shock, and then waking up naked 200 meters away, because lightning undresses you completely. I found these repetitions very cinematic, even if everyone – including my producer – fought tooth and nail to get me to take them out. All my friends who followed the editing process would tell me: “But you already said that! You already did that. It feels like we’ve already seen this scene!” I would always reply that it was intentional. “You can’t make movies using the same scene twice,” they would tell me. “Have you ever seen a film with the same scene twice?” And I would say: “Look, there are variations, it’s not identical.” It was a long uphill battle to get these repetitions into the film. With the editor too, we were practically at each others throats. But then when the lightning-struck saw the film, they all cried. It was important for me.

There’s a character who is very clear about his need to relive the trauma over and over. I’m referring to the gas station attendant… We gather that every day he tells each customer the same story. That brings home the impact it had on him.

That really happened, it isn’t fiction. He was there, I set up my camera and told him: “Work your shift, don’t look at the camera.” In the film he’s very natural, he repeats the story every time a customer pulls up to the pump. I could only imagine the horror he went through. Shooting the film was therapeutic for everyone. Going back with us to the site of the accident, where none of the five lightning-strike victims had ever returned, freed them from the trauma. Naturally we spoke about it far in advance.

So you took the therapy literally. Did the film function like a therapy?

Exactly. Later, during editing, I brought in trauma expert Patrice Louville ‒ who isn’t Saturn but one of his colleagues, because Saturn doesn’t practice this “rewind” technique – you see it in the credits, he’s a specialist. After a plane crash, when the families of victims gather at the airport, he is the one who is sent to tell them about the tragedy. He is a top French expert in very violent trauma. When I finished editing, I brought him in and showed him the edited scenes of the film. I wanted confirmation from a specialist that the scenes didn’t pose a danger. He assured me that the five witnesses would not only remain aware that they were reenacting the scene, but also that seeing it on screen would help them further exteriorize it. Still, I sensed that there was a risk of making them vulnerable. For me the first screening with the lightning-struck and the melancholy patients was a terrible ordeal. I was in tears, I was worried about them and about their families, worried about their reaction. But everything was fine.

So it went alright with the melancholy patients too?

Yes, the families of the melancholics better understood their loved-ones’ pathology. They also understood they weren’t capable of talking about it to them. It was beautiful. The film changed a lot of lives. It was a very powerful human experience.

There is one of the “lightning struck" whose story sets her apart from the others. After the strike that left her wheelchair-bound, she became a dancer and found the courage to do what she had never dared to do before. Could you talk to us about the link between energy and art, between energy and movement, dance…

Florence Lancial was already a dancer before the tragedy. After being struck by lightning she became paraplegic. She started dancing again in her wheelchair as soon as she was able, and pioneered the discipline in France. She is a choreographer and gives dance classes in the Marseille area. She participated in the Beijing Special Olympics in swimming and won fifth place. What is surprising in her case is that the accident increased her spiritual and physical strength. All the “lightning struck” say they found deeper meaning in their lives after the accident, but Florence Lancial is the most glaring example of this. It was while watching her dance in her wheelchair – in a parking lot across the street from her house – that I first got the idea of “choreographing” the narratives of all the witnesses. It occurred to me that the scene would be more powerful if it was reconstructed in a single movement, that the lightning-struck would be freer to relive it in the place where the accident actually happened. We would only place the narrator’s voice later on, over the images of this “dance.” You could say that all the witnesses “dance” the scene in the place where they were struck by lightning. In Florence’s case, there was obviously even more choreography and we blasted the music composed specifically for that scene at the Dune du Pila. We built her a wooden platform among the dunes, because she was such a powerful and compelling character. The stage was very difficult to build technically, it meant mobilizing firefighters with special dune buggies. It was the sheer force of Florence Lancial, the force of her story and her mental and physical strength, that compelled the firefighters and carpenters to build the stage and work for free. As soon as I told them that Florence would dance in her wheelchair at the exact spot where she had been struck by lightning, which I had promised her, they became as invested as I was. They were moved by this day of shooting. Florence Lancial gave us a life lesson. Keep on moving when you can’t move anymore. That is the major lesson I got from her as an artist.

It’s rare to be struck by lighting. I think the percentage of survivors is very low. How did you find them?

It took me three years. I looked for them in hospitals. It occurred to me to contact hospitals with burn units. I had read that burns were the main issue for the victims of lightning, so I visited hospitals with specialized burn units in Paris and the provinces. These are places where special rooms exist, beds covered with tulle gras. There aren’t many of these specialized hospitals; I went through their records and found people who had been struck by lightning. Many families refused: “A movie? No way! This was a tragedy, we’re not going to be in a film about that.” It wasn’t easy, but in the end I found the five people you see in the film.

Only five accepted?

Seven accepted, but I selected five because I wanted it to be like fingers on a hand. Five fingers on Baal’s hand and five on Saturn’s.

Why did you want them to be “fingers”?

Because in my narrative – the film is not a documentary – the lightning-struck are cared for by Baal and Saturn. Baal holds them in his lightning hunter hand, and Saturn has five more in his psychiatrist’s hand. The presence of the healing hand is very important to me. In the first scene, winter, you see a hand that grabs onto another hand, the hand of someone drowning, someone who is underwater like Ophelia. Saturn’s hand grabs it. The idea of the film is also to “swim” back to the surface. For Azor and Églé, too, there is Nevil – the character who brings them kama – who brings them out of the eighteenth century and into the contemporary world. But when he gives Églé the kama ‒ the magic truffle or “Allah’s vegetable” – everything ends, Paradise is lost.

Godard seems to be an explicit reference in your film. The watch painted around the eye recalls the painted body of Pierrot le Fou. Would you like to comment on that subject?

ATOMS, the summer season, was conceived in the spirit of Godard, and refers explicitly to Pierrot le Fou. After Azor and Églé “escape” from Marivaux’s text and make love nude on the beach, instead of putting their period costumes back on, they dress in jeans and t-shirts that are the same color as their former costumes. They become contemporary lovers. The reference to Pierrot le Fou is obvious. Azor gets punched in the face and his bruise is like the painted face of Pierrot who will soon get blown up with dynamite. At the beginning of the film Azor had a watch painted around his eye because he knew his life with Églé was over. All the characters in Lightning have a different perception of time. Azor’s clock is set to his lover’s gaze (the watch is painted over his eye at the beginning, before the bruise).

Let’s come back to the fact that your film is experiential. It’s not a fiction film, it’s not, shall we say, a normal film. The fact that it served as therapy and as a “modifier of lives” confirms this.

Yes, for me “experience” is a very powerful word. I would like the film to be an experience for the audience too. Three hours and fifty minutes are indeed an “experience.” When I was shooting the film I had already thought about the idea of giving viewers a cinematic experience, like the ones I had gotten from Matthew Barney, for example, whose works are truly lyrical. Andrei Rublev is also an experience. These epic films are like frescoes, which is not the same thing as a painting. Like the frescoes we see here in Rome (The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican for example), which people come from all over the world to see. I’m not comparing myself to Michelangelo, that goes without saying, but I strive to give the audience the same kind of visual-sensorial experience. Achieving that took time. And indeed I always tell viewers that true experience requires patience. Even if there are difficult moments, and slow parts. Without it, there’s no experience. To have an experience you have to abandon your own habits, which we did during the production of the film. I, for one, let myself experience risk, with the lightning-struck and by bringing Saturn, originally from Guinea Bissau, back to the country of his ancestors. He resisted at first, he is a well-known doctor in Paris, and it wasn’t easy for him. What I mean is that this was an experience for everybody involved. Everyone let go of their habits and put their trust in me. They gave themselves over to the film completely. I had a very strong relationship with all the participants, I frequented them for years. Everything took a long time. All those years spent together transformed the expression on their faces.  They aren’t like faces you generally see in the cinema.

How many years did it take to make Lightning?

Ten years. As I said, it took time to find the characters, to work with their families. Saturn put a lot of time and effort into getting the necessary releases to shoot the electroshock therapy sessions at the clinic where he works. You can’t just show up at these clinics and shoot these scenes with doctors and patients. Each part of the film took time. I regularly travelled to Syria before the war. Tragically the footage I shot back then has taken on the quality of historical record. It’s disheartening because none of the locations where I shot exist today, they’ve all been destroyed. The soap factories of Aleppo—Palmyra, the historical site of Simeon, was partially destroyed. Aleppo has been destroyed. The Bimaristan, the world’s first psychiatric hospital, where I shot the scenes with the Dervishes, no longer exists. Independent of me, Lightning bears the traces of these places which now lay in ruins. I am often asked for images of the archeological site of Palmyra because I have incredible archives. Much of Africa, including Guinea-Bissau, is too dangerous to travel in. The same goes for Libya and Tunisia. Maybe I had an intuition that we had to shoot in all those sensitive places. It was like a storm was brewing. You had to leave before it struck. Madness, savagery, a destructive bent, this storm I’m talking about doesn’t only come from the sky. The film also explores everything that has been destroyed, all forms of excess. Lightning is excess from the sky.

For that cinema is important, it preserves the trace of everything that has vanished.

One thing I like a lot about the film is its epilogue. Very beautiful. In the epilogue something magical happens because the sequence reunites all the characters we’ve seen during the film in various settings and seasons. It transplants them, and others, to a highly contemporary setting—that of a nightclub— a little unstable, a little irrational, almost magical. It’s like we are seeing them represented in our current human condition. This is what we are, what we’re reduced to, wounded, lost. The way in which we are alone even when we are “together.” Where does this ending come from?

It’s the only sequence shot of the film. It echoes the prologue, the piece at the beginning we were talking about mixing my voice with Baal’s. For the end I needed a “black box.” So I thought to myself: “How can I build a night club or boîte de nuit (literally a “night box” in French)? The night unites us all, in any century, in a temporality where we cease to see, where we sleep, in every country in the world. The most difficult part was getting the African women to come, but also the “lightning struck” who were scattered across France. I’m sure you know I had practically no money to make the film. And then we had to bring together all the melancholics, which was somewhat easier because they live in Paris. And the archeologist too, Saturn. They were all there. How could we get them all together into this nightclub? Putting together this scene took almost as much energy as the preceding ten years of shooting combined because travel was very costly. Only the African women couldn’t come. I had the little red stretchers from the ritual in Kasara remade, and I showed the ritual to Africans in Paris who learned exactly the same gestures and came to the nightclub. Apart from them, the entire cast of characters was able to meet for the first time. It required an insane amount of planning, but from the beginning I knew I wanted the epilogue to be live, and that it had to take place in the same world that opens the film, namely the world of DJ Baal. He says at the beginning of the film “Sometimes I’m a DJ in a nightclub in Paris.” And I thought to myself: “At the end they will all be there dancing in DJ Baal’s nightclub.” There was also the issue of getting a farmer to dance. Once they had all arrived we didn’t have time to rehearse. We only had two hours to get everything set up, and another two to shoot, because we couldn’t shoot in the nightclub for more than four hours. During the two-hour rehearsal nobody danced except for Saturn and Simeon who are born dancers, and Azor and Églé, both actors who dance very well. DJ Baal, too, was in his element because he’s on stage every night.

There was more than one camera, wasn’t there?

Yes, I asked two friends to shoot because I wanted three cameras. I sat in a wheelchair which Saturn had stolen from his clinic for the night and I shot from the dancer’s point of view. That’s why you see everything spinning. Godard did the same thing, right? Everything was filmed with great intensity, and when they saw me shooting, the farmer and the others started moving. And in the end they all danced. Here too the sound wasn’t recorded live, but designed after the fact with the musician. I wanted to put all these characters into a state of trance and so we used very little light and the music turned way up. Azor spins around and rolls on the ground, he is holding a magic wand, as if the magic in the scene were about to take shape. I wanted the characters to leave the stage like they do in the Chinese theater. At the beginning of a performance Chinese actors introduce themselves to the audience and at the end we see them leaving the stage. And so it is with my characters, who you see go upstairs and then leave the frame. I wanted to give the sensation of another prologue, to support the idea that everything could begin anew.

To be continued…