La Part de l’Ombre (A Share of the Shadow)
by J-M Vlaeminckx - Cinergie.be
- "The Author and his double"
Writer, essayist, deadpan comic, filmmaker (his short films will soon be available on one
DVD), director of Nuit Noire [+see also:
interview: Olivier Smolders
film profile], his first full-length feature film, lecturer at the INSAS (the Brussels-based film school), Olivier Smolders is just the man to bridge the critical gap between cinema and literature with opening written broadsides such as "cinema should leave literature well alone" and: "If films have anything to do with the literary act, it is perhaps because the overriding denotive strategy of the one finds its echo in the connotative proofs of the other. The relationship between the shapes that form on-screen and those on the page is quite stimulating, as it can be used to circulate fantasmatic projection".
Those of you already familiar with Olivier Smolders’ previous published opuscules will not fail to recognise his unique mixture of deadpan humour and cliché put into perspective. For those who’d like to know more about a very special filmmaker-cum-writer, then, in addition to Paul Nougé’s biography, we recommend Le cinéma parlant, dictionnaire d’idées reçues sur le cinéma (The Talkies, Dictionary of Received Ideas about the Cinema (ed. Daily-Bul) and Eloge de la pornographie (Eulogy to Pornography), from which we learn that hardcore is charming, nice and tasty into the bargain . Porn movies viewed from an angle you’d never be able to contort yourself into, so to speak. A kind of religion. Just like the movies, in fact ! In addition, if you took to Mort à Vignole as much as we did, you’ll get the full story in La part de l’ombre, and will hear all about Seuls, Adoration and Neuvaine (a film about the writer’s childhood in a religious boarding school that’s far more frightening than Almodovar’s last opus). Last, but not least, a Nuit noire logbook will help you navigate the film’s itinerary, step-by-step, to the very end.
Extracts of La Part de l'Ombre ("A Share of the Shadow")
LE COUPABLE ("The Guilty Person") (Nuit Noire)
"Nuit noire (Black Night) was born of the passion of the insect. The aim was to tell a story of metamorphoses in highly dreamlike fashion, accompanying an entomologist in the fictive representation of his own internal life. The film wouldn’t show a man dreaming, but rather the dream itself unfolding. A dream cobbled together from a collection of diverse reminiscences, fairy tales, tales of fantasy and make-believe, macro photogra¬phs and colonial archives.
Nuit noire was at first intended to be a film about audio-visual sensations. The narrative pretext, the trauma suffered by the main character, a story of mourning over the death of a little sister, had to be presented to the audience in deferred fashion, by the most improbable device it was possible to find. Throw in some elements of decor and a small cast. Interlace the guiding thread of the narrative pretext with other threads. A canvas slowly but surely unveils, its intersections tied with occasionally loose knots. In reality, events and characters had to be born of the more or less conscious fears and desires of the main character. That’s why the series of episodes could be both very structured and random. I could quite easily see the film as the x-ray of a dream advancing by associations, by the contamination of elements that, although not easily discernible, were also susceptible to multiple meanings. Personally, I have always liked leaving myself at the mercy of stories I don’t fully understand but whose composite parts do seem to draw on a vaguely worrying, subterranean causal logic."
NUIT NOIRE (Extracts from the working notes, "Memory")
"Sometimes, beetles that we hadn’t effectively chloroformed woke up in the night, impaled on their pins, and spent hours going round in circles, making that annoying scratching-paw sound. In the morning, we put them out of their misery, not without feeling somewhat guilty about the whole thing. Nuit noire (Black Night) is first and foremost a film about insects and guilt."
Olivier Smolders, La part de l’ombre(Share of the Shadow), published by Les impressions nouvelles, Paris-Bruxelles, 2005 p.146 & p. 151.