Twenty year old Stephen Wraysford arrives in France in 1910. As an orphan Stephen grew up in care but has an education provided by his well meaning guardian and now he’s been sent by the textile company he works for in England to observe the new manufacturing process used in a factory in Amiens, owned by Rene Azaire. Behind the large, bourgeois home of the Azaire’s, where Stephen is going to stay, the river Somme breaks into small picturesque canals where fisherman sit and blackbirds sing overhead. In his pockets he has a leather notebook, his rail ticket and a knife.

Stephen’s passionate, life changing affair with Isabelle, Madame Azaire, is the focus of this first part, and when he writes about her in his journal written in a private code, ‘pulse’ is the word he uses for her. This is a section that glitters with life, the sounds and the newness, even the demonstrations at the factory for more pay are lives being lived with hope for social progression.

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A Film For February: The Double Life Of Véronique

Written and directed by Krzystztof Kieslowski, this enigmatic mystery drama from 1991 is the story of two young women, Weronika in Poland and Véronique in France. Born on the same day, they look identical and share the same musical talent. Unaware of eachother’s existence they sense a spectral companion and believe they share an emotional bond with someone they don’t know but suspect is there.

The first part is based in Poland and we follow Weronika in Kraków and witness her beautiful singing. One day as she’s walking home she sees a group of girls, her own age getting onto a bus. One of them is taking photographs of everything she sees, randomly through the window. Weronika sees Véronique and we know that Véronique has her doppelganger on film. The first part finishes with the collapse and sudden death of Weronika during a musical recital and the story moves to Véronique in Paris. She feels an intense sense of loss and abruptly gives up singing, she doesn’t know why, just that she must, and she begins teaching music to young children.

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Before Sunrise and Before Sunset

before series

Before Sunrise (1995) was directed by Richard Linklater and co-written with Kim Krizan.   American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy) meet on a train going to Vienna.  They start talking and before long, engrossed in conversation, realise they’ve arrived in Vienna and Jesse must leave to catch his flight back home the next day.  On a hunch he asks Celine to get off the train with him and spend the day in Vienna. She does, and there we have it. Two early twentysomethings  talking, while they explore Vienna, closely followed by a companionable camera. Continue reading “Before Sunrise and Before Sunset”