Chantal Akerman

Sog.: dal romanzo La prigioniera (1923) di Marcel Proust. Scen.: Chantal Akerman, Eric de Kuyper. F.: Sabine Lancelin. M.: Claire Atherton. Scgf.: Christian Marti. Int.: Stanislas Merhar (Simon), Sylvie Testud (Ariane), Olivia Bonamy (Andrée), Liliane Rovère (Françoise), Françoise Bertin (la nonna), Aurore Clément (Léa), Anna Mouglalis (Isabelle), Vanessa Larré (Hélène), Samuel Tasinaje (Levy), Bérénice Béjo (Sarah). Prod.: Paulo Branco per Gémini Films, Arte France, Paradise Films. DCP. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Opening with Super8 images of graceful young girls playing by the seaside, La Captive, in just a few shots, captures something of the fascination the narrator of the Remembrance of Things Past has for Albertine and her friends and their ambiguous sexuality. Inspired by The Prisoner, Chantal Akerman appropriates with ease that Proustian mix of confinement  in  a  padded environment – young Simon’s flat, nurturing self-conscious introspection – with the opening out to the spectacle of human activities (notably those of Ariane, the love-object). Both fascinating and distressing, it unveils the vastness of an unfamiliar and forever unattainable land. Transforming Paris into enchanting theatrical sets reminiscent of the artificial, playful world of Night and Day, the Belgian filmmaker restricts the locations as Simon tries to take possession of his  mistress. However, as she plays out a very Ruizian fantasy filming Simon’s shadowing of Ariane as so many ghostly wanderings, Akerman points out, first and foremost, what eludes the young man. In La Captive, the off-screen space, which echoes with bursts of song from Ariane’s voice-over, takes on a spellbinding character that further anticipates the scale of the disaster that awaits Simon: an entire world of feeling from which he is excluded. In this sense, the film sets up a wonderful cartography of the movement of the soul in love: striving to master the totality of the beloved, only in the end to discover unfathomable chasms and lose its way. 

Claire Vassé

Copy From

Restored in 4K in 2022 by courtesy of Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique in collaboration with Fondation Chantal Akerman, from the original 35mm negative. Grading supervised by director of photography Sabine Lancelin. Fundings provided by Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles