Cosmodrama or metaphysics in space
by Vitor Pinto
- Philippe Fernandez screens in Rotterdam his stylized metaphysical drama in fourteen stations
In Cosmodrama [+see also:
film profile], by French Philippe Fernandez – global premiere at the 44th International Film Festival Rotterdam –, seven astronauts, accompanied by a dog and a monkey, wake up in a spaceship following a cryopreservation (freezing) operation. None of them know what they are doing there or what their ship's final destination is. Seemingly the ship is programmed to function by itself.
If Cosmodrama were a science fiction movie like others, it would have special effects, conflict, aliens, and at least half of the characters wouldn't survive until the end. But Cosmodrama doesn't follow the usual genre route. Even if you have prior expectations in this regard, the credits opt to shatter them and to expose from the outset the movie's individuality: in reality it's a “metaphysical drama in fourteen seasons”.
The description – pompous and ironic at the same time – fits perfectly with the spirit of a movie that, in each new scene, triggers thousands of (physical, philosophical, semiotic…) theories about man's relationship with the universe, and then later shamelessly deconstructs that intellectual solemnity in its entirety. In that deconstruction process, the screenplay uses burlesque situations experienced by the colourful characters, who begin to interact with each other by basing their actions on a vague distribution of tasks.
Philippe Fernandez, whose first feature film A Faint Trembling of the Landscape was screened in Cannes in 2008, aside from a director, is also Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Bordeaux. That background certainly influenced the movie's careful aesthetic construction. The sets and costumes refer back to the seventies, and are typical of sci fi series of that period.
In a meeting with the audience, Fernandez agreed that in his creative process the images first arise in his mind and that only afterwards he succeeds in developing ideas and creating conflict in the screenplay. Of course, in a screenplay that claims to be metaphysical religion couldn't possibly be absent: the director calls on it in order to structure his plot in fourteen chapters, in a clear reference to the (fourteen) Stations of the Cross. While in Catholicism that journey was made by Christ, here it's the astronauts who make it: seven of them, like the apostles. Ultimately, it's as if the cosmodramatic ship wants to be interpreted as the microcosm of an earthly world in which the inhabitants, filled with anxiety, are not sure of who they are or where they're going, but they continue on with more questions than answers.
(Translated from Spanish)