Land Legs: The little story about "the great profession"
by Bénédicte Prot
- VENICE 2015: Samuel Collardey recreates, with his real protagonists, the story of a fisherman and a father forced to stay on land to cope with the swell
We don’t know it at the start, in the heavy heat of this Irish bar where thrilling sailor songs resound, when we see him get to his feet smiling, glorious, at the top of the table, but the character from Land Legs [+see also:
film profile], the film that Samuel Collardey is screening at the 72nd Venice Film Festival in the Orizzonti section -and also in the Sala Web selection-, is not a fictional character: it's the real story that Dominique Leborne, long-time seafarer spending weeks on end at sea, replays here before the camera, surrounded by his family, the other love of his life.
This simple and sublime story is about a harsh profession known as "the great profession" by those who humbly practice it, in the cold weather on the deadly sea. The call is so powerful that these men wearing yellow oilskins, all of these Icelandic fishermen, leave behind them on land, in constant expectation mixed with both fear and resentment, and with endless admiration, the people whom they most love. Collardey effectively portrays the romantic side of his story of a severe heartbreak like a deadly wave splitting on a silver crag, without betraying the completely natural modesty of his protagonists, their purest elegance.
The story of Land Legs is indeed both moving and unpretentious. Any form of tragic pompousness would have tarnished the purity of the message that Leborne tries to give to his children: to Matteo, his "lad", to whom he wants to pass on his profession, his passion, and Mailys, the daughter that’s not his but whom he has accepted, and willingly so. He is ready to support her in whatever choices she makes, from the colour of her hair to the unplanned pregnancy that’s doubly tragic for such a young woman who’s still a child, even if it means ignoring the irresistible call of the sea, going back to school and living without electricity.
Thanks to Collardey, with this third feature film with non-professional actors, centred on a real life profession, we discover a profoundly human world, of modest courage in the face of life’s ups and downs, a world in which acceptance is the other side of a love that’s both unconditional and unassuming, without any fanfare. In this way, Dominique Leborne braves the swell and moves off into the distance, a small fleck on the sea, wearing a broad smile.
As part of the Venice Sala Web catalogue, Land Legs is being screened online from 9-14 September here.
(Translated from French)