You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Abhijit Ghosh-Dastidar

Loosely structured on Orpheus and Eurydice tale of over 2000 years ago, Alain Resnais’ ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet–Vous n’ avez encore rien vu’ (France/Germany, 2013, colour, 115 mins) shown at Kolkata International Film Festival (November 2013) is based on two unrelated plays by Jean Anouilh : ‘Eurydice’ (1941) and ‘Dear Antoine : Or, The love that Failed’ (1971). The source material is quickly exposed, as Resnais adapts placing one within the other, and refracting its dialogue across multiple characters and layers of reality. The film’s overture extends over four minutes. Former stage director Antoine d’Anthak (Denis Podalydes) has just died in Peillon, near Cannes, while cleaning a hunting rifle. With mortality looming on Laurant Herbiet and Alex Reval’s screenplay, the faithful butler (Andrez Seweryn) invites on telephone, the cast of Resnais veterans like Lambert Wilson, Anne Consigny, Sabine Azema, Pierre Arditi, Mathew Amalric and others, along with new comers like Hippolyte Giradot and Michel Robin, for the last rites at the late stage directors Pantheonic mansion in Peillon. The actors gather at the stage directors home to view his will. They play themselves, as they are introduced in voice over, while being notified telephonically of the death news. The actors have played in the director’s previous stagings of the Orpheus and Eurydice play, and some have played the same role in different productions.

As they are seated before a well mounted HD TV set, the butler at the study room, with the remote control, presents a video, in which the late stage director requests his friends to watch a video taped rehearsal for his new production of Jean Anovilh’s ‘Eurydice’, by a young acting company, ‘La Compagnie de la Colombe’. It is for the former cast members to decide whether or not this final testament is worthy for a public performance.

Medium shots to overhead shots register the old actors as they cross the bridge, and ghosts come to meet them. Michel Piccoli recalls the restaurants around Opera, where a young man played a violin. The actors gathered for mourning, recite their lines in sync with the actors on the video. The intertitles bring in the ghosts of performances past. A new parallel dramatic plane is created on Television, as the actors catching the video recall their past lives, and break into dialogue as if by reflex memory. Bruno Podalydes, who directs the video ‘Eurydice’ in five acts in a large abandoned warehouse with empty barrels and a gigantic pendulum, creates a full length adaptation. Eurydice is ironical and promiscuous in the Resnais film, with expressive Azema/Eurydice and Arditi Orpheus heaving in operatic gestures, where the video screening room becomes a spotlight stage, doors open onto railway platforms, and walls and floors glide. Eric Gavtier’s mobile and radiant photography, never misses Resnais imagination and multiplicity of meanings.

Vol. 47, No. 3, Jul 27 - Aug 2, 2014