11 March 2014 | Bunuel1976
THE YEAR 01 (Jacques Doillon, Alain Resnais & Jean Rouch, 1973) **1/2
Unlike FAR FROM Vietnam (1967; directly preceded by it in my viewing schedule), which the late Alain Resnais was also a part of, this is not a documentary (yet a fairly obscure title in comparison) but more or less a narrative film (thus making the individual input of the three directors indiscernible!) – albeit still of a heavily political and, by extension, dated nature. Incidentally, while an off-screen voice complaining that the credits are hard-to-read is assured that people watching the movie will recognize the actors regardless, I only caught sight myself of a pre-stardom Gerard Depardieu in the very first vignette!
What we have here is the anti-establishment attitude, typified by the May 1968 riots and which would inform several contemporaneous releases, agreeably presented via a series of satirical sketches – not that this alleviates the intrinsic didacticism of such fare. The premise is simple enough: a day and time are set on which all work is to stop; at first, the formerly oppressed classes relish their freedom (for which they also give up their house keys, since property no longer belongs to any individual but to one and all, with elderly people reluctant to embrace this viewpoint forced to improvise in concealing it!) – but soon begin to realize that some vital services simply cannot be abandoned, and themselves start to feel bored with the lack of activity (not even the opportunity to develop relationships suffices to satisfactorily occupy their time)! Eventually, they start taking up new interests, including turning pavements into makeshift gardens – and, so as not to forget where they were coming from, theatrical representations of their former lives are held!
Unsurprisingly, the level of the writing (by someone listed solely under the nom-de-plume Gebe'!) is hit-or-miss and, yet, some of it proves quite inspired: workers in a given position dub themselves like rock groups; a young man's 'novel' pursuit involves the collection of paper money, which has ostensibly lost its value since the onset of "Year One", but he still has amassed a staggering 648 million Francs!; this obvious financial crisis leads to a mass suicide (by way of people leaping out of windows into the crowded streets below) in Wall Street – a scene which recalls a similar gag in the contemporaneous Monty Python vehicle AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (1971)!