BD 36 Liberté

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What A Disgrace
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BD 36 Liberté

#1 Post by What A Disgrace » Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:42 pm

Albert Serra's film will be released in December, according to Second Run's website.

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Aunt Peg
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Re: Forthcoming: Liberté

#2 Post by Aunt Peg » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:26 pm

What A Disgrace wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:42 pm
Albert Serra's film will be released in December, according to Second Run's website.
Great news!

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criterionsnob
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Re: Forthcoming: Liberté

#3 Post by criterionsnob » Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:20 pm

Cover art and pre-orders are up:

Second Run pre-order
Arrow pre-order

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Aunt Peg
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#4 Post by Aunt Peg » Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:02 am

Has anyone received a shipping note for this title yet?

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CSM126
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#5 Post by CSM126 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:03 am


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Bikey
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#6 Post by Bikey » Wed Jan 13, 2021 1:40 pm


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AidanKing
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#7 Post by AidanKing » Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:44 pm

Not many posts about this so, for a bit more information, Phil Coldiron wrote about Liberté in Cinema Scope and Josh Cabrita wrote about it in Reverse Shot.

I'm obviously not complaining, but it does seem significant that there appears to be absolutely no controversy about the film, whereas there definitely would have been in the 1970s or 1980s. Maybe the defenders of public morality have moved on as European art cinema possibly does not carry the middle-class intellectual cachet it used to in those days. The differing reactions, or lack of them, do seem interesting when compared to all the (understandable) controversy over Pasolini's Salo, especially as Serra, unlike Pasolini, seems to be siding with his Sadean libertines as representatives of the Enlightenment.

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Bikey
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#8 Post by Bikey » Fri Jan 22, 2021 6:26 am

"Imagine A Midsummer Night's Dream rewritten by the Marquis De Sade and that's a pretty good starting point to describe LIBERTÉ...
If any film ever fell under the 'not for everyone' label this would be it, but in as an example of the frequent and peculiar melding of the art house and grindhouse, it proves there are still plenty of buttons out there left to be pushed."

Mondo Digital

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tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#9 Post by tenia » Fri Jan 22, 2021 7:08 am

AidanKing wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:44 pm
I'm obviously not complaining, but it does seem significant that there appears to be absolutely no controversy about the film, whereas there definitely would have been in the 1970s or 1980s. Maybe the defenders of public morality have moved on as European art cinema possibly does not carry the middle-class intellectual cachet it used to in those days. The differing reactions, or lack of them, do seem interesting when compared to all the (understandable) controversy over Pasolini's Salo, especially as Serra, unlike Pasolini, seems to be siding with his Sadean libertines as representatives of the Enlightenment.
I think it has to do with the look and precise content of the movie. In Liberté, everything looks quite uncertain, dark and at often at a distance, and it's hard to perceive, at least in an obvious manner, some kind of political sub-text like Pasolini's Salo had. There's also quite some willing distorsion of time in Liberté, which breathes (IMO) more than Salo, that feels tighter and thus more relentless in his assault to the viewer. In comparison, Liberté feels more like some kind of childish attempt to push some buttons, Serra having himself stated he wasn't very happy about The Death of Louis XIV having been received as quite accessible and thus responded to this by making Liberté ostensibly "obscure".

While there certainly are controversial scenes in Liberté, they often seem too obviously made for generating shocks, but because the movie is 2h18 long and shot and edited in ways that clearly make it seeming even longer than this, and much "flatter" than what it seems at first glance, I guess it isn't too hard to exit the movie feeling much less shocked than expected, despite what the movie graphically contains.

Tl;dr : the lack of controversy possibly comes from the movie not being effective at all at shocking viewers, despite its graphic content.

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AidanKing
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#10 Post by AidanKing » Sat Jan 23, 2021 7:58 am

That all seems perfectly reasonable as an explanation for the lack of controversy, and I suppose there's also no way that the film could seem like a howl of absolute despair, unlike 'Salo'.



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tenia
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#11 Post by tenia » Sat Jan 23, 2021 9:13 am

AidanKing wrote:
Sat Jan 23, 2021 7:58 am
That all seems perfectly reasonable as an explanation for the lack of controversy, and I suppose there's also no way that the film could seem like a howl of absolute despair, unlike 'Salo'.
To me, indeed, it's a question of tone. Liberté never felt to me as a movie trying to really make me react about what it was showing to me. There was something really passive in watching it, keeping me at a distance. Salo, on the other hand, always felt extremely angering, making me wanting to react about it.

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AidanKing
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#12 Post by AidanKing » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:13 pm

I suppose that also fits in with some of the same material being used in a two-screen installation for a gallery setting, which can often involve a certain degree of detachment or a different way of viewing, at least. Phil Coldiron covers the different versions quite well in his 'Cinema Scope' article, I think.

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John Cope
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Re: BD 36 Liberté

#13 Post by John Cope » Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:05 am

While this film about 18th century French libertines in pursuit of sexual freedom over one long night is, not surprisingly, controversial for its sordid content, it is remarkable for far more than that, first and foremost perhaps just simply being the sustaining of an atmosphere, a tone, texture and space, that allows for such a concentrated exploration, both on the part of the libertines and director Albert Serra. Actually, it was the liminal space that these characters inhabit which initially drew my interest to this and that interest is duly rewarded with a profound and unique film which takes engagement with that idea seriously. It is not incidental, for instance, that these characters, whose sensibility is located closest to the de Sade end of the spectrum, have fallen into a marginalized realm of supreme specificity, driven out of the puritanical court of Louis XVI but finding little promise in what the impending Revolution offers to them either. One of the libertines even mentions that the Revolution no longer appears to be in friendly hands. They are simply figures far too marginal to fit comfortably anywhere (as in Cronenberg's Crash) and the film is very much about that (I'm also reminded of a quote from Peter Greenaway on de Sade in which he praised him but went on to say that nevertheless, of course he had to be locked up).

Again, though the reputation for this film is built upon its supposedly sensational and scandalous content what is really remarkable about it is Serra's cinematic mastery, his careful and gradual construction of space through mood, texture, atmosphere and assorted detail. Though the sexual element is unfailingly fixated upon by much of the press (which is its own kind of revelation) the film itself really has just as much of a focus upon long stretches of silent cruising and observation which develops that notion of space as well as many long deliberative dialogues (you rarely see any mention of that aspect within discussions of the film). The long sections devoted to silent characters, often barely glimpsed, slowly drifting through the darkened woods in search of one another has the effect, of course, of a kind of ultra rare and privileged sinking into an environment (for them and for us). We get more of a sense of this particular setting of cleared out forest space by the end of this film than we ever get from most films. And that's indicative of the achievement here all around. As great as Serra's other films are (and they are very great indeed), the accomplishment of this one is simply at another level entirely; frankly, it's on another level from almost everything else (closest corollary may be Salo I guess but I really don't think even those two have that much in common).

Much has been made about what Serra's, and by extension the film's, own position is on the characters depicted and their philosophy. I've seen a number of essays which suggest that Sera is celebrating it but I don't see that at all (if he is, it's with similar qualifications as Greenaway had, as mentioned above). But neither is he condemning it. Indeed, unlike most films that purport to remain neutral and purely observational on their subject, Serra really does carry off an ultra-rare remove from judgment. Much is depicted but there is just about zero sense given as to where he stands on it. Actually, that puts him at odds with the characters themselves who often refer to the "evil" of their actions. This seems fitting as much of the libertines' character is self-defined through notions of perpetuating transgression against established norms and putting themselves at odds to them. Without those norms much of their own self-proclaimed self-conception would collapse. But part what is being depicted here, within this liminal space or state, is exactly what would inhabit such a realm and that is a super rarefied, even almost ascetic or purified pursuit.

And that gets us to the religious or aesthetic sphere of it all which may seem comparatively surprising and thus neglected in examination. But there is much made of such suggestive correlations throughout. The carriages alone that are deposited in solitary locations in the woods often resemble shrouded confessionals and ultimately have much the same function if only in a kind of reverse sacramentality. The discussion of the Crucifixion at the end of the film, which neatly bookends with the early discussion of drawing and quartering, also is suggestive of that ascetic purification referred to above. Beyond that, the entire forest and film function as ritualized space or ground for the enactment of highly revered spectacle, whether dramatized or de-dramatized (though so deliberately staged or intimately engaged with that its communicative or shared eroticism is minimized, as with Eyes Wide Shut's famous orgy scene--as Roger Ebert once said, there is nothing more fascinating than one's own sexual fantasy and nothing more laughable than someone else's). We are often aligned alongside the other characters in a prolonged spectatorial capacity. Still, this notion is complicated by the general darkness and obscurity of much of the action as performance spectacle and the necessity often for seeking it out. What this then does is to confer a similar quality of sacramental rite upon what is both marginal and under recognized. But if this is a religion of sorts for the libertines it is a religion of elimination or annihilation.

Part of Serra's accomplishment is to include many figures who are not conventionally attractive and are indeed often almost grotesques to participate in the proceedings (the more conventionally attractive female participants are, significantly, brought in to participate from outside this realm, having potentially then rather less say in their embrace of libertinism). This also serves to complicate our response to the enactment of a number of the sexual rites which, though sharing a summary description with pornography, diverge from much pornography with the inclusion of physically unattractive participants but also an intensity of focus which shifts from a mainstream presentation to a fetishist's fixation. That's needed though to get at Serra's point which is an acknowledgment of the less palatable, more extreme lengths gone to within this realm. It's not insignificant that the superficially most extreme acts arrive at the end of the film, representative of the limitations of tolerance or patience or shared and sympathetic proclivity (that there are also by this point several references to no longer responsive or capable sex partners also suggests a satiety). Sera's accomplishment then is remarkable both internally (individual compositions and conceptions) and externally (overall structure).

If we cannot relate to the specifically rarefied interests of the characters and their systematic dismantling or deconstruction of civility (as represented by the initial formal court attire) then we can perhaps recognize and respect at least some of the less obvious characteristics of the imagination which they exemplify. Still, what fascinates and has a hold upon us is inevitably likely elsewhere and not that which transfixes them, which can just as inevitably seem as much a numbing and monotonous dirge as transfixing. When the sun rises at the end to signal a conclusion to the bacchanal it's not a moral judgment as much as it is an acknowledgment of the parameters or boundaries to an ontological state. Even so, the lingering and implicit question remains: liberty for what?

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