An unexpected coverage
by Kathrin Halter
- A team from a Swiss radio, composed of Valérie Donzelli, Patrick Lapp and Michel Vuillermoz find themselves at the heart of the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974 by chance
The idea behind the comedy came to Lionel Baier (Another Man [+see also:
interview: Lionel Baier
film profile], Stupid Boy [+see also:
film profile]) during a trip through the Czech Republic in 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, with two radio journalists: “I was amused by our little Swiss group, roaming through the great History of Europe”. Baier’s fictitious radio team which paces up and down Portugal in a VW bus in Longwave [+see also:
interview: Lionel Baier
film profile] is also lost and overwhelmed by events: it is the spring of 1974 and the head of Romand programmes (played by director Jean-Stéphane Bron) has sent them to report on the Swiss development aid projects. Indeed, the Federal Council wishes for patriotism to be a bit more audible on the Swiss Romand Radio. Taking part in this trip is ambitious journalist (Valérie Donzelli), who wants to use this coverage in Portugal to prepare her own show, a sound tech (Patrick Lapp) and an experienced reporter who has travelled the world (Michel Vuillermoz), but sadly suffers from memory loss (!).
The trio roams the country, tracking down the signs of Swiss development aid, until they hear on a Belgian radio that a revolution just took place in Portugal. From that moment on, it is all about gathering as much information as possible on what is happening. Lionel Baier stages the Carnation Revolution like a musical comedy: the crowd gatherings become dances, and the Swiss journalists loose and find each other in the demonstrations, and give up their feeling of guilt in the effervescence of sexual liberation.
Depending on the point of view, this can all seem frivolous or harmless, apolitical even. But for Baier, it isn’t so much about depicting the Carnation Revolution but rather being ironic about the world’s blissful ignorance and his countrymen’s self-centeredness. He does it with such lightness, rhythm in the narration and humour in the images that is becomes a pleasure. The musicality and frenzied rhythm of his comedy make all its beauty. To find the suitable tone, Lionel Baier was inspired by George Gerswhin (like by Rachmaninov in Stupid Boy and Szymanowski in Another Man). The influence of French and Italian comedies of the 60’s and 70’s is also evident. Aesthetically, the film offers much more than a retro look. Baier also created Longwave as part of his tetralogy on the four cardinal points of Europe. His goal is to draw a sort of "cartography of emotions" for Europeans. If all goes well, (au nord) should take place in Scotland and (au sud) in Italy.