Monday, June 13, 2011

Nénette/Animals and More Animals

This fascinating box set is a great introduction to the documentary world of French director Nicolas Philbert. In the first film, Nénette, he tells the story of a 40-year-old orangutan living in a Paris zoo by focusing the camera on her and letting the dialogue of the people who watch her from the other side of her glass-walled cage tell the story. It takes a bit to get use to the film’s unusual setup, but the result is hypnotic. In the second movie, Animals and More Animals, Philbert follows a group of scientists and museum workers as they prepare for the grand reopening of the Natural History Museum in Paris after being closed for almost 30 years. The story is a bit more structured than Nénette, but the visual imagery is just as strong, if not stronger, no mean achievement considering most of his ‘cast’ is dead and stuffed.

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