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127 days


France, 1958

Original music : Pierre Barbaud, Georges Delerue Production : Les Films de La Pléiade

Programmed by Pierre Oscar Lévy


A guided tour of the Péchiney plants (a French industrial group) with commentary from Raymond Queneau in the form of a pastiche poem in the formal Alexandrine metre. The polystyrene manufacturer commissioned and funded this film that can be understood – at first sight – as a work in praise of this “noble material created entirely by man”. But even the title of this short film can be seen as critical – as Circe tells Ulysses, “Beware, you will encounter sirens. They will try to tempt you. You must not listen to their song or you will run aground on the rocks”.

Tënk's opinion

This film remains a masterpiece, a seminal work, the gold standard for commissioned work, and the best propaganda documentary ever made. This incredible, funny and intelligent ode to plastic, with its perfect aesthetics, is so well executed that it ends up saying the opposite of what it was produced for. Everyone can use this film as an educational ecological tool to call for the end of the use of this despicable material. The artist’s sincerity allows for this incredible demonstration of a filmmaker’s power to say, from a distance, both one thing and its opposite. The entire film is organised around the description – starting at the end – of the birth of plastic. Even the images (the plastic grows in front of our eyes) are made with special affects during shooting that reverse the melting of the material filmed…
The advertising for this plastic substance, an oil-based product, represents the absolute chic of the post-war years that have left us with a monstrous ecological debt and are leading us straight to the sixth extinction.

Pierre Oscar Lévy

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