“An uncharted memory flees stubbornly towards an increasingly distant era.
The sensation of antiquity increases.”
Today we start up a new segment that I like to call: Films That Should Be Replaced on the 1001 List by The Big Lebowski. That’s right – with over a thousand films compiled by some eggheads for us to study and appreciate, there is still not one appearance of The Dude. So I’m taking it upon myself as a film critic (sure, why not?) to call out such an injustice via this new segment. Our first contender is a 1963 attempt at a documentary by Jean-Daniel Pollet entitled Méditerranée.
I should start out by saying that perhaps I was bitter going into this one because of how hard it was to track down. A few shady websites led me to an unsubtitled version, but I was not about to sit there and have some French man put me to sleep with his soothing voice. Eventually I stumbled upon what I’m 60 percent sure is the proper set of subtitles, so I gave it a go. I would say about now that the film is boring and the pretentious film snubs can get over it. However, I was hard-pressed to find anyone who liked this movie.
Just about any website that has substantive discussion of this film is from some blog just like this one – some poor soul making their way through the 1001 films. I’ve checked just about every one of these blogs that I’m aware exists, and nobody had nice things to say about this one. They just passed it over with some brief rundown and moved on with their lives. Well, I hold nothing against these brave heroes, and I am nearly inclined to do the same.
Enough of all that. What’s important is why I didn’t like the film. Well, it’s boring. You can “experiment with form” all you want, but I’d rather watch a four hour film with proper pacing and substance than this one, which clocks in under 50 minutes and lulls you right to sleep. Of that 50 minutes, just about every photograph or clip in the film is repeated three or four times, often much more. The narration is somewhat poetic and keeps it engaging to a degree, but this all just feels like some bad Discovery channel documentary.
I’m of the opinion that we should appreciate film for the film, the end result. It may make you admire a work more to know that the director or actors had to go through some serious agony to create it, but the film has to stand up on its own. This debate comes up all the time when actors go through rigorous method acting and don’t win Oscars. People always complain about what a true artist they are and how they deserved it the most. I don’t like those people, and the same principle applies with this film. If some of these random websites are to be trusted, it took Pollet two years to complete this film, with six months of that time being spent in the editing room where he ate and slept while he perfected his work. That’s definitely some inspiring stuff, but to claim the film as a masterpiece because of all of that would be a mistake. It just doesn’t hold up. I would say it’s not even that visually interesting, which is really where the film hedges its bets. The repetition of the same frames isn’t unique or artistic. It feels lazy.
As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not opposed to film that challenges form or works on an abstract level. Some of these films I have watched so far are truly fantastic or at least spark some kind of feeling that verifies them as great art. Méditerranée doesn’t do anything new. It’s just some man reading poetry on top of a slideshow of vacation photos. That’s all this film is to me, so I’ll call it a bad film. Show me any person who says they would rather watch Méditerranée than The Big Lebowski, and I would say you show me a liar.
Films Left to Watch: 983