Walerian Borowczyk

film 2 of 5

Les Astronautes

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

On to France now, where we find Borowczyk collaborating with the formidable Chris Marker. You’re tempted to make ideological assumptions with these two markedly and yet very distinctively ideological filmmakers. That’s a fair urge, at the same time that it’s one to be wary of. Assumptions like these can be pretty pat, taken for granted and not interrogated at all. Marker never had any patience with that kind of laziness, and Borowczyk, of course, would go on to be a assumption disturber/icon smasher practically on par with Luis Buñuel.

The film: is that where the dreamers end up in the Soviet regime? Les Astronautes seems like a lot more than just wit and object fascination/virtuosity. It’s those things too. It knows Méliès. It seems like George Dunning and Terry Gilliam had to have known it. And are they competing with Karel Zeman? Marker is in the mix, obviously; you can’t help thinking that this looks forward to the more portentous La Jetée. And why not Alphaville?

Intertextuality is fun, and pretty important when you’re approaching film as a scholar. Texts and contexts, and all. But intertextuality can keep slowing things down or gumming things up too. Again, the film? This is charming! It presents itself as a filmmaker’s fantasy and a boys’ adventure, and it’s very attractive on both counts.