Mille mois

By Faouzi Bensaïdi

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Now here is a film that takes us on its journey really worth the trip – a trip that is anything but touristy. The few landscape shots are barren and harsh but also breathtakingly beautiful. This is not an explanatory journey. Mille Mois proposes rather than disposes. Bensaïdi often shoots from a distance, leaving the spectator free to experience the image for themself. The film has feeling throughout, conferred by the subtle understanding inherent in the way the mages are framed. Contradictions to be found in the social space are reproduced within the same frame, such as the shot of the young girls sunbathing on a roof with the boys playing football in the street below. An object (a chair dragged around for most of the film by Mehdi, the child) symbolises his relationship with the world. He takes it to the teacher every day (since the teacher does not have a chair to sit on at the front of the class), thus making a place for himself. He is an exile from the village. His grandfather lodges him and his mother while his father, who is against the regime, is in prison. However, the chair is also his way of seeing the world. He climbs up on it to watch (this is a glorious image) the town instantly lighting up at night. The old man’s land has been confiscated since his son went to prison and he has to sell off his furniture piece by piece in order to survive. It is when he sells the chair that the tenuous balance within the truncated family begins to crumble.
The film opens magnificently with the villagers waiting on the mountain for the moon to appear, which represents the beginning of Ramadan. The film’s apotheosis comes during the sacred Night, when fasting is like fasting for a thousand months. Of course, everything goes wrong that night and the chair once again plays a central role!
In the vein of his short films, Faouzi Bensaïdi continues to elaborate a cinematographic language that serves his purpose. Fixed shots allow the characters move into and out of the frame, and they often talk off-camera. Thus, the spectator is given the impression of being at the theatre and following a scene that appears to be both the product of a written script and something far greater, something arbitrary. A stimulating contrast is created between the distance implied by this highly fabricated mechanism and the implications of the impression of uncertainty the mechanism creates. It contains all the precision of a musical score and all the emotion of the music itself.
Other moving shots follow a given character, establishing a lasting human relationship. Wide-angle shots of the arid landscape show people and cars moving in the distance. This environment is in tune with the narrative and the destiny of man.
The editing favours digressions, following one character for a time then leaving them, only to come back to them later. The result is a kind of polyphonic puzzle however the narrative is not segmented as such since this mosaic of destinies and absurdity, burlesque and drama converges into a single composition. At the end, the spectator leaves with a heightened awareness of the traces left by two decades of terrorism in Europe.

///Article N° : 5700

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