Programmed by Documentaire sur grand écran
Filmed in June and October 1996, ‘Painting with Falls’ is, first and foremost, an investigation on a painting: Landscape with the Falls of Icarus, painted by Pieter Bruegel circa 1555. The author’s personal interpretation of the work raises a multitude of questions. Here is one that could embrace them all: what is looking? Through the words of the unemployed, of anonymous passers-by, a psychoanalyst, politicians, and the filmmaker’s parents. Their testimonies intertwine with extracts from a diary the author kept during the same period.
What do we see when we watch a film? What do we look at when we see a painting? Around these questions that mobilise Freud’s notion of scopophilia, Claudio Pazienza enlists family, history of art and political events to lead a proteiform investigation that is as serious as it is whimsical. He even goes as far as perching his camera on his head, in order to pan across the scene in a subjective high-angle shot. The inspiration behind this exercise - the ‘Falls of Icarus’, as depicted in a painting by Brueghel the Elder, and of which two copies remain in Brussels.
We do not know what nourishes his obsessive passion for this work, but we accompany him from surprise to surprise, noting along the way that he always dons the same red suit as the painting’s central figure. The fact that the latter is not Icarus, but a labourer ploughing a furrow, says a lot about the filmmaker’s identification with this peasant, and cinema’s identification with painting.
Writer and critic