Aurore Broutin in Dumont’s “Hors Satan” [2011 France]

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Bruno Dumont’s reflections on the esoteric continues with another beautifully crafted film, “Hors Satan” [DVD Eng. Title: Out Satan].

A village loner, almost a vagabond, lives and sleeps in the marshes. The ranger wants him out of the land, but some in the village however seek his help because of his miraculous healing powers. A girl befriends him, offers food, and follows him like a disciple on his frequent spiritual ramblings. She wants to be his girlfriend, but he insists on a purely platonic relationship. But while his actions are largely benevolent, at times they’re also vindictive on people who he thinks have wronged…

Bruno Dumont tries to show us that there is perhaps no clearly defined border separating Good from Evil, that this border may at best be semi-permeable – each side absorbing elements from the other as needed. Or they may also be relative even. Throughout the film, the protagonist’s behaviour varies from being merciful and caring, to menacing and evil – separated through periods of stillness that also allow the audience to contemplate. Dumont’s earlier films used to be overly slow at times, with takes that stretch into several minutes when very little happens (like in La vie de Jésus and L’humanité). This film however is paced just about right, and alongside its lush cinematography, also vaguely reminiscent of an early Antonioni – the difference of course is the emphasis – here it is on the spiritual rather than the philosophical. But the most extraordinary feature of the film has to be its sound engineering, or lack of it. Dumont didn’t have a dedicated sound editor for this film, and most of it is captured as a single channel. It therefore has no music in the soundtrack, and the dialogues are also sparse. What we hear mostly are the sounds from nature, significantly aiding our contemplations through the film. This is nevertheless another magnificent film from the French auteur – Highly Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link



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