Matthew Henry John Bartlett

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Monday 25 September, 02006

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:33 pm

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset: I saw them two evenings running respectively, reflectively. Richard Linklater, who I met first in Tape (which movie read me like a book), wrote the first and he and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy wrote the second. Hawke and Delpy acted, talked mostly, they’re more or less two long conversations, the first wandering around Vienna, the second around Paris. Turns out I would quite like to go to both cities after all. One relationship whose life is in two bursts of a few hours and a book. Together they’re an argument about love. Is love other than or more than commitment, trust, friendship, companionship, responsibility? Is there The One? I tell myself it doesn’t matter, if we’re both caught up in some glorious gospel project, that sort of question will cease to be interesting. But I wonder.

JH Kunstler visits Auckland

4 responses to “”

  1. a says:

    you liked those movies? so many better ones about ‘love’. (altho i can’t think of their names just now!) schmaltzy and particularly the second one was just irritating (the girl annoys me SO much in every movie i’ve seen her). it was like a non-european’s ‘mis en scene’ of Europe’s Top Five Cities.
    as to the questions. they’re always good to ask i think. love doesn’t have to be either/or. and while i think yes to ‘the one’ i’m not sure if that’s always the case. two weddings in my family are/will be arranged – and in both cases the individuals learnt to love each other after they made the decision to commit to a life long partnership. (not that i’m suggesting you do this – just pointing out the cultural aspects of how ‘we’ think about love)

  2. Matthew says:

    Yo A, give me some titles. I didn’t necessarily find either character that likeable, just well-drawn/intelligent/real. Good p re. arranged-ness.

  3. Bel says:

    I am a huge Linklater fan and I did the same thing recently – the double feature binge! :D they’re such interesting films just as an approach to narrative and how he sustains interest and develops the plot with a such stripped back approach.
    You should check out his other work – “Waking Life” is incredible, very experimental and pretty much a nonlinear narrative/anti-3-act struture -and it features a scene from what could argueably be the Jesse/Celine characters, which is cool!!
    He does such an amazing range of projects -mostly recently he premiered at the same festival “A Scanner Darkly” (based on the Philip K Dick -it was at the NZIFF and will hopefully get a general release- was so thought provoking -and funny- and beautiful!!) and also “Fast Food Nation”, a fictional film based on the non-fiction best seller.

    Ok I totally geeked out just then – sorry bro!!

    As for films about love, well “You Can Count On Me” is a gem but that’s more about the sibling relationship than all that mooshy ‘holding hands feeding ducks’ crap.

  4. Fernanda says:

    (Sorry if you find grammar mistakes or Spaninglish. First I wrote it in Spanish and then I translate it to English)

    An ilusion is never going to be nothing more but an ilusion

    I have been reading diverse comments in English and Spanish about this movies. Since I have not found the words in which to see me reflected I decided to write about this films.

    “Before Sunshine” and “Before Sunset” are two movies that must be interpreted together. Both speak of love, placed in the real world, and in each one we can see a different stage of life.

    The first part is loaded with romantiscism, idealism, hope. Also the movie is much more non-political. Everything has to be done. Everything is even possible. The world appears like a mystery to be revealed.

    The second part is the consequence of nine years of experimentation in the world. The promise to be in Vienna was not fulfilled. Both constructed their lives to their way. Both begin to see the world with a more personal crystal.

    For me the movie does not treat so much about if a indicated person for each exists but on the form that our elections condition our life, any type of these.

    Our western idea of love is the one of romantic love. The love that suffers, that is condemned by unmanageable forces. The tragic love of Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolda. The soap opera love of the rich man and the young and beautiful poor girl. The love that is passion, torture, that is consumed in its impossible flame. From this point of view love towards the other does not go really to the other, but to the conditions by which the other is denied to me like a possession object. That is to say, the impossibility of the other is what turns him or her in loved, in almost obsession.

    The happy ending of love stories represent the couple winning the adversities that separated them. For example, Pride and Prejudice. Tragic stories show the lovers generally demonstrating that their love is stronger than those obstacles, even if usually this is reach through death. The poison and the dagger for the lovers of Verona

    The passion idealize and in that ideal transform the loved person in a reflection of the own desires of the lover.

    How to see the others without watching ourselves?

    In a society of individualistic cut is every time more difficult to respect the others in theirs specificity. But the true love is the one that respects. The rest is passion.

    Jesse and Celine represent and not the romantic love. Although this idea continues playing in the bottom, the specific experiencie that has kept them separate has given each one a complex vision of reality. I mean, this film escapes from the maniqueists and tear-jerking Hollywood logics even though the argument lines of the film could orient it for those sides.

    In one scene Celine says to Jesse that maybe their love is only possible in fantastic European cities, with summer climate and during a limited lapse of time. This description seems to be the perfect prescription for the sprouting of the idyllic love: dreamed cities + heat + absence of temporary corruption + separation situation.

    Both have developed their life along this 9 years. Jesse is married with a woman he doesn’ t love and to whom he doesn’ t leave because of love to his son. Celine went through several relations that have left a deep solitude feeling in her. Nevertheless the memory of that night in Vienna has worked like the counterpoint of love those years.

    There is no love more loved that the one that couldn’ t be. And this is like that since Sentimental Education of Flaubert to Cold Mountain.

    But the film has another question. We are prepared to really love once and for always a single person? Celine says how she remembers and misses something from each person who was her partner in her life, Everyone have particularities that make them unique. The eternal love is the better way of learning?

    Jesse and Celine have seen the dawn already, where everything seemed to be allow. They contemplated the sunset in the Senna, when the light of the sun was extinguished but even it was possible to see. What is going to happen at nightfall? Could them really love each other?

    Could them accept their cultural differences? Their conceptions about the world? Could them accept the other without trying to make them similar to their own? Celine says something arround the social fight that can be applied to the idea of love. She says that the true fighters are not those that want to hang themselves the poster of revolutionaries and to arrive at the consequences before exploring the causes. Those ones, want the results but they do not enjoy the processes. And here is the subject of the time again. Love is a process. Like everything. Mainly a process to really see the other and from that, discover how to grow together.

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