Light, for any cinematographer, is first and foremost a technical problem: how do you make sure that the scene’s action is adequately perceptible? At what point does the light’s brightness block out the detail of the shot? Beyond the technicalities, light exerted on Robby Müller a positively metaphysical attraction. When Müller died this summer (aged 78), cinema lost a relatively unsung hero. Luckily, we have Claire Pijman’s new documentary Living the Light – Robby Müller (trailer) to show us how light became for Müller an object of endless fascination, disarming and empowering him at the same time.
During May ’68, 50 years ago this past month, Paris students took to the streets, literally. Under the slogan “Sous les pavés, la plage!” (“Beneath the cobbles, the beach!”), protesters tore loose the stones that made up the streets of the Quartier Latin in Paris, so as to gain ammunition against the gendarmes. But this was not only an anticapitalist battlecry. At the same time, it was an affirmation of one of capitalism’s guiding principles, the desire for leisure and luxury, the ‘beach’ waiting at the end of their struggles. While not an activist film, the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie’s (directed by Ted Kotcheff, written by Robert Klane) also represents an attempt to get to the beach, the luxury summer estates of The Hamptons, New York. And like the ’68ers, the film’s protagonists are not only youths violently seeking to liberate themselves from the yoke of capitalism, in so doing, they reach for remarkably aesthetic means: by deploying the dead body of their boss as an object to be manipulated in a performance of the nouveaux riche lifestyle.
Disclaimer: this is an English translation of a post that previously appeared on Dutch philosophy blog BijNaderInzien.org