Ne have seen NEITHER THE SKY NOR THE EARTH, the first film from director Clément Cogitore, which has granted us a long interview. The film’s title is taken from a verse in the Qur’an : “Neither the sky nor the earth wept, and they had no time” and responds to the two intentions of the filmmaker : to evoke a spiritual space between heaven and earth while announcing the film program.
This young director inspired acknowledges to have taken a path that will confuse more than one, making the film deliberately unclassifiable, and most importantly, not giving the viewer any resolution of the enigma !
Some feel indeed frustrated by the idea of having to deal with the idea of a mystery… But it will let go.
Because this film, whose storyline began in 2010, had anticipated the withdrawal of the French troops, is not really about the war, even if it is contextualised in Afghanistan’s arid, in the middle of nowhere, on the border with pakistan. We share the daily life of this community of soldiers in war, their family ties and their lives a secret that they do not have the right to communicate to their loved ones. Are also shown with accuracy the difficult negotiations, sometimes outside the protocol, resulted in a military interpreter, as well as with the villagers afghan with the Taliban.
Thomas Bidegain, scriptwriter for Audiard and including Dheepan, has collaborated on the screenplay for the film. The latter, well-validated upstream by the military, however, has taken some liberties with the staging, such as the choice of the uniform or the absence of the Staff, thus reinforcing the idea of isolation.
NEITHER THE SKY NOR THE EARTH does not deal directly with fear, and yet fear it will be a question. The fear of these men trained to fight in the face of this enemy is invisible and inexplicable. In the Face of the disappearance of the military from one side, the Taliban on the other, each will attempt to find a plausible explanation, upsetting its own grid of reading western rational and his vision of the world. Have they deserted ? Have they been removed ? Are they dead or still alive ? Is this Allah’s anger that seeks vengeance ? Each will replicate in his own way by acts sometimes logical, sometimes desperate and useless that, out of respect for the progress of the story, we have taken the decision not to tell. Because until the end, we remained hooked and blown away by this novel and multiple of take us as far with so much intensity !
The doubts, the questions, the anguish tirailleront the captain Antares BONASSIEU/Jérémie Renier and his men, notably William/Kevin Azaïas or Jeremiah/Swann Arlaud. The film attempts to show us a young dominant male, responsible for the safety of his men he never gives up on the field, but powerless in the face of danger that all run. We accompany it in its process of evolution, the way he let go little by little, always on the razor’s edge, narrowly avoiding a mutiny by his men. The film dealt with sensitivity and realism the delicate balance between respect for the military orders, and legitimate wish on the part of these men to flee in the face of the unknown. Even that one speaks little in the military, which does not allow them to express their emotions, even when the Chaplain comes on the base.
“A film as enigmatic and intense that confronts a community in a rational military in the world invisible and mysterious beliefs.”
The director, who is said to be interested as well to the study of the Qur’an as that of Shamanism, the visible and the invisible, to psychoanalysis or to the recent scientific discoveries about the origins of dreams wished to refer to, not the religions, but beliefs that construct men to resist the chaos of the world. He also acknowledges having wanted to deal with the absence and mourning, as well as the way in which we accompany one living in death and a body in the earth according to cultures and beliefs.
Our senses are awakening in this closed magnetic, and it is without doubt one of its strengths, this ability to engage us by many means. The view through the image, of course, and the diversity of ways of filming the filmmaker : a camera at the shoulder height of the men, who often filmed from the back, camera infra-red, thermal imaging camera, adding to the atmosphere of anxiety of the nights during which to spend these strange phenomena.
Hearing through the music, sometimes medieval with the viol which evokes old ritual music, sometimes the electro, in which the phenomenon of repetition causes the trance of a soldier in despair, releasing all the tension from his body. But also thanks to the silences that surround these men.
The actors are all extremely fair and credible, with an energy and a tension that strengthens the film’s purpose, Jérémie Renier in the lead, who , even if we know that he is ability to play everything, still manages to surprise us, but also Kevin Azaïas, revealed in The Fighters, Swann Arlaud, Finnegan Oldfield and Marc Robert.
Presented at the semaine de la Critique in Cannes and in other Festivals, this film is mystical and enigmatic is promised to a beautiful career.
THE OTHER OUTPUTS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
• Realisation : Clément Cogitore
• Scenario : Clément Cogitore, in collaboration with Thomas Bidegain
• Main actors : Jérémie Renier, Kévin Azaïs, Swan Arlaud
• Country of origin : France
• Released : September 30, 2015
• Duration : 1h40min
• Distributor : Diaphana Distribution
• Synopsis : Afghanistan 2014. With the approach of the troop withdrawal, captain Antarès Bonassieu and his section are assigned to a mission of control and supervision in a valley somewhere in the Wakhan border of Pakistan. Despite the determination of Antarès and his men, the control of this sector is supposed to calm will gradually escape. One night, the soldiers begin to disappear mysteriously in the valley.