When he writes his Three Interviews on War, Morality and Religion (1899), the Russian philosopher and theologian Vladimir Soloviev is not yet 50 years old but will soon die. He translated Plato and adopted the dialogical form that this work takes, where various characters examine problems, questions of a general or specialized nature such as the construction of Europe, the role of the army, the combat of Good and of Evil, the wanderings of progress but also episodes of the Bible and the figure of Jesus in front of these enemies, and deploy in a chastised language a dizzying dialectic bleeding. First close in his early youth to Russian nihilism, swearing, like them, only by the material and theories of Darwin, he went through a mystical crisis in 1872. The intellectual climate of the last half of the century was shaken by fierce political and aesthetic rivalries, structured in particular by the antagonism between Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. The apology for vegetarianism, chastity and non-violence, including the author ofAnna Karénine becomes the cantor somewhat enlightened, will be fought by Soloviev, who thus acquires the favors of Dostoevsky, a lasting friendship between the two men until the writing of Brothers Karamazov, nourished by the thought and figure of Soloviev, convinced that they are both of the political importance of faith and steeping, each to varying degrees of exaltation, in a messianism dominated by Antichrist’s expectation and obsession.
Read alsoInterview with filmmaker Cristi Puiu
Gange of images
Is it to have grown up in the heart of an Eastern Europe massacred by history, under the thumb of communist totalitarianism transformed into a vast farce by the Ceausescu couple, which was to make young Cristi Puiu sensitive to the prose of Soloviev? We will see it in the interview opposite, the reading of Interviews had on the young man of Bucharest, resulting from a popular medium, a power of revelation. He will have kept this devious bedside text, full of grandeur and opacity, as a shield against the too urgent, too confident assaults of our time convinced of having invented everything, everything understood. Puiu first mounted the Interviews during a workshop with actors in Toulouse. At the end of this experience, he began to write a scenario, transforming certain characters, moving him from the south of France, as in the book, to an aristocratic villa in Transylvania where five characters (three women and two men) go chat in a setting of opulence and comfort, covered with rugs and paintings. “Cinema, for me, is the medicine that allows me to extract from my body the stone that hurts me”, said Puiu, who can also say that it is necessary in a work to go to the end of its logic, to feel that it pulls you further from what it requires, then expels you and sacrifices you. We must accept the law and the test. If the film is great, it is because nothing prepares us for it and when we are thrown into it, we swim and we drown as if carried away in a Ganges of images and words whose texture, density, depth stuns, galvanizes and poisons.
Nikolai, a precious man with chiseled arguments, Ingrida, the wife of a general, angered observer of revolutionary changes, which shake up his values and beliefs in the holy mission of the army, or even the bohemian intellectual Edouard whose hatred we discover civilizing for “Bouseux d’Afrique” and everything that does not belong to the greatness of European culture for which he himself defined the criteria or Madeleine, dressed in black and sarcastic gaze, free thinker mowing his interlocutors with well-spoken aftershocks when they embark too much proudly in rhetorical cavalcades. These characters converse in the middle of the comings and goings of a mutie house staff and while outside rumble the first warning shots of violence that will bloody the first XXe century. Lucid and deaf, blind but on the lookout, the protagonists are caught in the geometry of the frames that compose the filmmaker, as if their intelligence was no longer of any help to ward off the catastrophe and that they were playing to themselves the an absurd piece of their ease of debating. Malm Area, in its slow Viscontian drift, turns into a picture of limbo, memories of the house of the dead and the exquisite reverse of rotting.
Malm Area of Cristi Puiu with Agathe Bosch, Frédéric Schulz Richard, Diana Sakalauskaité… 3:20.