Dir. Jules Engel, 35mm Black and White Sound 00:13:00

Page Contents


If ever an abstract artist needed to prove that he could perform adequately with realistic material (which, of course, he should never have to do), Engel could point with justified pride to COARAZE, one of the most perfect and whole films in our literature.

In a small village perched among remote French mountains, Engel's cameras lay bare the most essential mysteries of human experience. From the dizzy pitch of cobbled walkways and the regimented tiles of sagging roofs, he exposes the miracle of light and shade, positive and negative, with an astonishing freshness that reminds us of the luminous intensity of Vermeer or Weston. Simultaneously, his patterns of camera movement and stationary viewpoint (are these still photos? still lives?) form a "silent" choreography that questions the nature of movement, of accomplishment. And in the middle of this contemplative landscape, he also finds essential, existential ironies: this medieval environment co-exists today to be exploited by high-tech cameras, and if we would deny that we are related to these "primitive", quaint people and places, he ruthlessly follows the savage play of school children in the street, kicking and jeering each other in an uncomfortably familiar fashion -- the violence of their "choreography" re-defining the serenity of passive architecture, of innocence and maturity.

To have made just this one film would have been enough for most men; for Jules Engel, distinguished and consummate Post-Modernist, it was merely one milestone among dozens of varied, inventive artistic achievements he would accomplish subsequently.

[Source: Cardiff International Animation Festival program, 1994]

Other Credits

Music: Henri Martin